Kirkus Reviews
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File:Kirkus Reviews 20181015 cover.png
EditorVirginia Kirkus (1933 – July 1962)
CategoriesBook reviews
PublisherVirginia Kirkus Bookshop Service, Virginia Kirkus Service, Inc. (from 1962), and others
Kirkus Media, LLC (from 2010)
First issueJanuary 1933; 88 years ago (1933-01)
CountryUnited States
Based inNew York City, New York, U.S.

Kirkus Reviews (or Kirkus Media) is an American book review magazine founded in 1933 by Virginia Kirkus (1893–1980).[1] The magazine is headquartered in New York City.[2] Kirkus Reviews confers the annual Kirkus Prize to authors of fiction, nonfiction, young readers' literature.


Kirkus Reviews, published on the first and 15th of each month, previews books before their publication. Kirkus reviews over 10,000 titles per year.[1][3]


Virginia Kirkus was hired by Harper & Brothers to establish a children's book department in 1926. The department was eliminated as an economy measure in 1932 (for about a year), so Kirkus left and soon established her own book review service.[4] Initially, she arranged to get galley proofs of "20 or so" books in advance of their publication; almost 80 years later, the service was receiving hundreds of books weekly and reviewing about 100.[3]

Initially titled Bulletin by Kirkus' Bookshop Service from 1933 to 1954, the title was changed to Bulletin from Virginia Kirkus' Service from the January 1, 1955, issue onwards, and successively shortened to Virginia Kirkus' Service with the December 15, 1964, issue, and Kirkus Service in 1967, before it attained its definitive title, Kirkus Reviews, with the January 1, 1969, issue.[citation needed]

In 1985 Anne Larsen was brought on as fiction editor, soon to become editor, remaining the editorial head of Kirkus until 2006 and modifying the review format and style for improved readability, concision, accuracy, and impact.


It was sold to The New York Review of Books in 1970 and subsequently sold by the Review to Barbara Bader and Josh Rubins, who served also as the publication's editors. In 1985, magazine consultant James B. Kobak acquired Kirkus Reviews.[5] David LeBreton bought Kirkus from Kobak in 1993.[6] BPI Communications, owned by Dutch publisher VNU, bought Kirkus from LeBreton in 1999.[7] At the end of 2009, the company announced the end of operations for Kirkus.[1]

The journal was purchased from VNU (by then renamed The Nielsen Company, or Nielson N.V.) on February 10, 2010, by businessman Herbert Simon. Terms were not disclosed. It was thereafter renamed Kirkus Media, and book industry veteran Marc Winkelman was made publisher.[8]


In 2017, Kirkus removed its starred review of Laura Moriarty's novel American Heart after noticing the book's "white point of view" and "public concern" about the novel's alleged "white savior narrative", as described by editor-in-chief Claiborne Smith in interviews with Vulture and NPR.[9] The reviewer, a Muslim woman with expertise in young adult fiction, rewrote her text, adding that the story is "told exclusively through the filter of a white protagonist about a Muslim character," while the magazine removed the star.[10] The novel's author Laura Moriarty commented that "the takeaway [from this episode] for white writers is don't even try to write about people who are different from you."[10]

Kirkus Prize

In 2014, Kirkus Reviews started the Kirkus Prize, bestowing $50,000 prizes annually to authors of fiction, nonfiction, and young readers’ literature.[11]


Year Award Title Author Publisher
2014[12] Fiction Euphoria Lily King Atlantic Monthly
Nonfiction Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? Roz Chast Bloomsbury
Young Readers Aviary Wonders Inc.: Spring Catalog and Instruction Manual Kate Samworth Clarion Books
2015[13] Fiction A Little Life Hanya Yanagihara Pan Macmillan
Nonfiction Between the World and Me: Notes on the First 150 Years in America Ta-Nehisi Coates Random House
Young Readers Echo Pam Muñoz Ryan Scholastic Press
2016[14] Fiction The Sport of Kings C.E. Morgan Farrar Straus & Giroux
Nonfiction In the Darkroom Susan Faludi HarperCollins
Young Readers As Brave as You Jason Reynolds Atheneum
2017[15] Fiction What It Means When A Man Falls From The Sky Lesley Nneka Arimah Farafina Books
Nonfiction The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea Jack E. Davis Norton
Young Readers The Marrow Thieves Cherie Dimaline Dancing Cat Books
2018[16] Fiction Severance Ling Ma Farrar Straus & Giroux
Nonfiction Call Them By Their True Names: American Crises Rebecca Solnit Haymarket Books
Young Readers Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Gordon C. James Bolden/Agate
2019[17] Fiction The Nickel Boys Colson Whitehead Doubleday
Nonfiction How We Fight For Our Lives Saeed Jones Simon & Schuster
Young Readers New Kid Jerry Craft and Jim Callahan HarperCollins
2020[18] Fiction Luster Raven Leilani Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Nonfiction Stakes Is High: Life After the American Dream Mychal Denzel Smith Bold Type Books
Young Readers I Am Every Good Thing. Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Gordon C. James Nancy Paulsen Books


  1. ^ a b c Rich, Motoko (December 11, 2009). "End of Kirkus Reviews Brings Anguish and Relief". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on October 29, 2011. Retrieved November 21, 2011.
  2. ^ "Contact Us". Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved January 22, 2016.
  3. ^ a b "Kirkus Reviews History". Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved November 15, 2012.
  4. ^ Marcus, Leonard S. (2008). Minders of Make-Believe. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. pp. 104, 111. ISBN 978-0-395-67407-9.
  5. ^ Dougherty, Philip H. (April 4, 1985). "Consultant Acquires Kirkus Reviews". The New York Times. Retrieved November 12, 2012.
  6. ^ "Kirkus Reviews being acquired". Publishers Weekly. August 23, 1993. Archived from the original on May 21, 2013. Retrieved November 12, 2012.
  7. ^ "Kirkus Reviews Acquired By Publisher of Billboard". August 2, 1999. Archived from the original on January 27, 2013. Retrieved November 12, 2012.
  8. ^ Rich, Motoko (February 10, 2010). "Kirkus Gets a New Owner – From the N.B.A." The New York Times. Retrieved March 22, 2012.
  9. ^ Heller, Nathan (23 October 2017). "Kirkus Reviews and the Plight of the "Problematic" Book Review". The New Yorker. ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  10. ^ a b Neary, Lynn (21 October 2017). "Kirkus Changes Review After 'American Heart' Draws Outrage As 'White Savior Narrative'". NPR. ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  11. ^ Colin Dwyer (2014-09-30). "First-Ever Kirkus Prize Picks 18 Finalists : The Two-Way". NPR. Retrieved 2015-11-23.
  12. ^ White, Caitlin. "Women Take Home All Three 2014 Kirkus Prizes". Bustle. Retrieved 2018-09-26.
  13. ^ "2015 Finalists | Kirkus Reviews". Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved 2018-09-26.
  14. ^ "2016 Kirkus Prize Winners Announced". the American Booksellers Association. 2016-11-03. Retrieved 2018-09-26.
  15. ^ Reviews, Kirkus (2017-11-07). "The Winners Of The 2017 Kirkus Prize". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2018-09-26.
  16. ^ "2018 Finalists | Kirkus Reviews". Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved 2018-10-30.
  17. ^ "Kirkus Prize: 2019 Winners". Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved 2020-09-20.
  18. ^ "Winners of the 2020 Kirkus Prize Announced". Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved 2020-11-10.


  • "Kirkus Reviews splits from NYRB". Library Journal. 107. June 15, 1982. p. 1164. ISSN 0363-0277.
  • "Kirkus Reviews closes". Library Journal. 135.1. January 2010. pp. 16–17.
  • "Kirkus Reviews finds buyer". Library Journal. 135.2. February 2010. p. 13.

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