Kirkus Reviews has announced the three winners of their ninth annual Kirkus Prize in Fiction, Nonfiction, and Young Readers’ Literature. The winners were chosen from the 10,794 books that were reviewed by Kirkus in the last year.
The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store by James McBride
In 1972, when workers in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, were digging the foundations for a new development, the last thing they expected to find was a skeleton at the bottom of a well. Who the skeleton was and how it got there were two of the long-held secrets kept by the residents of Chicken Hill, the dilapidated neighbourhood where immigrant Jews and African Americans lived side by side and shared ambitions and sorrows.
As these characters’ stories overlap and deepen, it becomes clear how much the people who live on the margins of white, Christian America struggle and what they must do to survive. When the truth is finally revealed about what happened on Chicken Hill and the part the town’s white establishment played in it, McBride shows us that even in dark times, it is love and community–heaven and earth–that sustain us.
Our Migrant Souls: A Meditation on Race and the Meanings and Myths of “Latino” by Héctor Tobar
“Latino” is the most open-ended and loosely defined of the major race categories in the United States, and also one of the most rapidly growing. Composed as a direct address to the young people who identify or have been classified as “Latino,” Our Migrant Souls is the first account of the historical and social forces that define Latino identity.
Taking on the impacts of colonialism, public policy, immigration, media, and pop culture, Our Migrant Souls decodes the meaning of “Latino” as a racial and ethnic identity in the modern United States, and gives voice to the anger and the hopes of young Latino people who have seen Latinidad transformed into hateful tropes and who have faced insult and division―a story as old as this country itself.
Tobar translates his experience as not only a journalist and novelist but also a mentor, a leader, and an educator. He interweaves his own story, and that of his parents’ migration to the United States from Guatemala, into his account of his journey across the country to uncover something expansive, inspiring, true, and alive about the meaning of “Latino” in the twenty-first century.
America Redux: Visual Stories From Our Dynamic History by Ariel Aberg-Riger
America Redux explores the themes that create our shared sense of American identity and interrogates the myths we’ve been telling ourselves for centuries. With iconic American catchphrases as chapter titles, these twenty-one visual stories illuminate the astonishing, unexpected, sometimes darker sides of history that reverberate in our society to this very day–from the role of celebrity in immigration policy to the influence of one small group of white women on education to the effects of “progress” on housing and the environment, to the inspiring force of collective action and mutual aid across decades and among diverse groups.
Fully illustrated with collaged archival photographs, maps, documents, graphic elements, and handwritten text, this book is a dazzling, immersive experience that jumps around in time and will make you view history in a whole different light.