‘L.A. Times’ Book Prize Winners Announced!

Times Book Prize winners cover addiction, the border, diversity and more

By Jessica Roy and James Queally

Some of the most provocative topics in American political discourse — from the opioid crisis to racial identity to the country’s southern border — were at the heart of the books celebrated Friday night during the 39th annual Los Angeles Times Book Prizes.

Held inside USC’s Bovard Auditorium, the ceremony kicked off The Times’ weekend-long Festival of Books by honoring 12 authors, including Corona native Terry Tempest Williams, who received the Robert Kirsch award for lifetime achievement. The festival, which is now in its 25th year, will bring together more than 500 writers, musicians and artists as tens of thousands of attendees descend on USC’s campus.

Former U.S. Border Patrol agent Francisco Cantu received the current events prize for “The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches From the Border.” He said Friday that writing the book was the “only way to make sense of what” he had experienced while conducting immigration enforcement operations.

“We have to hear more voices of those who are affected by immigration enforcement,” he said. “Listen to these voices that are coming from the border. Listen to them, review them, extend your platforms to them.”

Former Roanoke Times reporter Beth Macy earned top honors in the Science and Technology category for “Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company That Addicted America,” which chronicles the origins of the nation’s crippling dependency on painkillers and the Purdue pharmaceutical company’s role in the crisis.

Macy spoke about the painful process of researching her work. She dedicated her win to Tess Henry, a woman central to her book who suffered from addiction and was later murdered.

“In my writing, there were people I spoke to who died before I was able to get home and type up my interview notes…. There were times when I really, really wanted to just quit,” she said.

In fiction, Rebecca Makkai’s novel “The Great Believers,” a tale of friendship that moves from Chicago to Paris, won the top prize. Oyinkan Braithwaite’s darkly comedic debut, “My Sister, the Serial Killer,” took home the Mystery/Thriller prize, and Eisner Award winner Tillie Walden’s “On a Sunbeam” was honored as the best graphic novel or comic book. Walden could not attend Friday night’s ceremony, but she sent in an acceptance video in the style of her graphic novel. Read the full story at The L.A. Times.

Congratulations to The Great Believers author Rebecca Makkai on her L.A. Times Book Prize win! The Great Believers was our March 2019 Book of the Month and is currently one of our Books in the Bag book club selections.

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