Kirkus Prize Judges

Each panel is composed of an author, a bookseller or librarian, and a Kirkus critic.

FICTION
2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014

Rumaan Alam, Author

Rumaan Alam is the author of the novels Rich and Pretty, That Kind of Mother, and Leave the World Behind, a finalist for the 2020 National Book Award in fiction.

Ikwo Ntekim, Bookseller

Ikwo Ntekim is the general manager at Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn, having begun her bookselling career seven years ago in Sag Harbor. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Stony Brook Southampton, where her fiction has appeared in The Southampton Review. She was born in Nigeria and has lived in the U.S. for more than 20 years, currently residing in Queens, New York.

Elsbeth Lindner, Critic

Elsbeth Lindner was born in the U.K. and has spent her entire professional life in the world of books. As a publisher she worked for houses including Oxford University Press, Methuen, Reed International, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, and The Women’s Press. She is the author of a novel, Cutting the Rocks, co-editor of the anthology Writing on the Wall, and a contributor to The Cambridge Guide to Women’s Writing in English. She was also a member of the Orange Prize for Fiction Administration Committee.

NONFICTION

Masha Gessen, Author

Masha Gessen is the author of 10 books, including Surviving Autocracy, the National Book Award–winning The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia, and The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin. A staff writer at the New Yorker and the recipient of numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Carnegie Fellowship, Gessen teaches at Bard College and lives in New York City.

Karen Maeda Allman, Bookseller

Karen Maeda Allman has worked in bookselling for over 30 years, 20 of them as author events co-coordinator at the Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle. She has served on numerous jury and awards panels, including for the Kiriyama Prize, the DSC Prize, and the 2018 National Book Award for Translated Literature.

Margaret Quamme, Critic

Margaret Quamme reviews books, theater, and pop music for the Columbus Dispatch, as well as writing features for the entertainment and lifestyle sections of the newspaper. She also reviews books for Kirkus Reviews and other publications, and serves on the Board of Directors of the Fairfield County District Library. She has a Ph.D. in English from Brown University. In 1987, she and her husband moved from New England to Ohio, where they have raised four kids.

YOUNG READERS’ LITERATURE

Naomi Shihab Nye, Author

Naomi Shihab Nye, Young People’s Poet Laureate (Poetry Foundation), has written or edited more than 30 books of poetry, prose, and children’s stories. She received the Ivan Sandrof Award for Lifetime Achievement from the National Book Critics’ Circle as well as the Lon Tinkle Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Texas Institute of Letters. For more than 40 years she has worked as a visiting writer all over the country and the world.

Chrystal Carr Jeter, Librarian

Chrystal Carr Jeter has nearly 50 years’ experience as a youth services librarian, educator, and library administrator in Alaska and Ohio. Originally from California, she has chaired the Coretta Scott King Book Awards and Children’s Legacy Award committees and served on the Newbery Award jury. In 2012, Chrystal retired from Cleveland Public Library where she chaired the Norman Sugarman Children’s Biography Award for more than a decade.

Amy Robinson, Critic

Kirkus critic Amy Robinson holds a Master of Library and Information Science from the University of Pittsburgh, and she is currently a children’s librarian at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh in its main building.

The Magazine: Kirkus Reviews

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  • The Kirkus Star

    One of the most coveted designations in the book industry, the Kirkus Star marks books of exceptional merit.

  • The Kirkus Prize

    The Kirkus Prize is among the richest literary awards in America, awarding $50,000 in three categories annually.

    See the 2020 winners.

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