Minneapolis writer Anne Ursu is a finalist for a prestigious and lucrative Kirkus Prize for her middle-grade fantasy novel, "The Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy." Any book that received a starred review from the trade journal Kirkus is eligible to be considered, and that list is winnowed to six in each category.
Ursu's fantasy novel, published by Walden Pond Press, takes place in a kingdom where boys are groomed to become sorcerers and girls are kept to secondary, obedient roles. The main character of Marya — who tries to conform — is sent to Dragomir Academy, a school for "troubled girls."
The finalists in fiction are "Scary Monsters" by Michelle de Kretser; "Trust" by Hernan Diaz; "God's Children Are Little Broken Things" by Arinze Ifeakandu; "Mecca" by Susan Straight; "Scattered All Over the Earth" by Yoko Tawada, translated by Margaret Mitsutani; and "The Books of Jacob" by Olga Tokarczuk, translated by Jennifer Croft.
The nonfiction finalists are "By Hands Now Known" by Margaret A. Burnham; "The Facemaker" by Lindsey Fitzharris; "The 1619 Project" edited by Nikole Hannah-Jones, Caitlin Roper, Ilena Silverman and Jake Silverstein; "These Precious Days" by Ann Patchett; "In Sensorium" by Tanaïs; and "An Immense World" by Ed Yong.
And in addition to Ursu, the finalists in young readers' literature are "Coffee, Rabbit, Snowdrop, Lost" by Betina Birkjær; "The Year We Learned to Fly" by Jacqueline Woodson; "The Golden Hour" by Niki Smith; "Himawari House" by Harmony Becker; and "How You Grow Wings" by Rimma Onoseta.
Now in its ninth year, the Kirkus Prizes are among the most lucrative of the literary awards, each carrying an honorarium of $50,000. The winners will be announced at 6 p.m. Oct. 27 at the Austin Central Library in Austin, Texas, and will also be livestreamed on Kirkus' YouTube channel.