Hanya Yanagihara, Ta-Nehisi Coates and Pam Muñoz Ryan won the annual Kirkus Prizes on Thursday night at a ceremony in Austin.
Each of the winners gets $50,000, making the Kirkus Prize, presented by Austin-based Kirkus Reviews, one of the largest in the world.
Yanagihira won the fiction prize for her novel, “A Little Life,” which deals with four men who were college roommates and are dealing with personal demons as adults. Yanagihara, who is of Hawaiian ancestry and works at the New York Times, is a finalist for the National Book Award, and was among the finalists for the Man Booker Prize, which went to Marlon James of Jamaica earlier this week.
The judges described it as “a profound inquiry into the possibility — and impossibility — of redemption.”
Coates won the nonfiction prize for his best-selling “Between the World and Me,” a memoir about race, written as a letter to his son. Coates, a national correspondent at the Atlantic, is also a finalist in nonfiction for the National Book Award. Those awards will be announced Nov. 18 in New York.
The judges described Coates’ book as a “formidable literary achievement and a crucial, urgent, and nuanced contribution to a long-overdue national conversation.”
Ryan, a California native and full-time writer, won the young readers literature prize for “Echo,” a middle-grade novel about the healing power of music. She has written more than 40 books and lives near San Diego.
“Narratives intertwine through a singular musical instrument—the harmonica—celebrating the power of music to uplift and unite us across time and culture,” the judges said of “Echo.”
The Kirkus Prize was created in 2014 to celebrate eight decades of criticism from Kirkus Reviews. In prize money, it tops the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, whose winners get $10,000. The Booker Prize, which is based in Britain, provides 50,000 British pounds, or about $77,000.
The Kirkus Prize comes as the Texas Book Festival gears up to celebrate its 20th year this weekend at the state Capitol and on surrounding grounds. It takes place Saturday and Sunday, and is free and open to the public.