Debut novel ‘Luster’ wins $50,000 Kirkus prize

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NEW YORK (AP) — A debut novel about a young Black woman in publishing who has an affair with a married white man has won a $50,000 award. Raven Leilani’s “Luster” is this year’s winner of the Kirkus Prize for fiction.

The trade publication Kirkus Reviews announced two other $50,000 honors on Wednesday: Mychal Denzel Smith’s “Stakes Is High: Life After the American Dream” won for best nonfiction and Derrick Barnes’ “I Am Every Good Thing,” with illustrations by Gordon C. James, for young people’s literature. Barnes and James won in 2018 for “Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut.”

Finalists included two books endorsed by Oprah Winfrey: James McBride’s novel “Deacon King Kong” and Isabel Wilkerson’s “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents.”


This story has been corrected to show that Raven Leilani’s “Luster is the winner of the fiction prize. A previous version of the story reported an incorrect winner.

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