The Washington Monthly is proud to announce the 2021 Kukula Award for Excellence in Nonfiction Book Reviewing. The award, now in its second year, honors the memory of Kukula Kapoor Glastris, the longtime and beloved books editor at the Washington Monthly magazine. It celebrates the kind of serious, public affairs-focused book reviews that Kukula devoted herself to commissioning and editing—and the talented individuals who practice this undervalued craft.
Nonfiction book reviewing is a vital aspect of journalism, one that plays a key role in transmitting hard-won reporting, research, and ideas to policymakers, influencers, and citizens who can’t possibly read more than a fraction of the important books being published each year. It also contributes to a healthy intellectual life.
This spring, we will again honor two reviewers and their publications for exceptional book reviewing. We welcome and will give priority to reviews on works of politics, public affairs, history, and biography—the themes Kukula was most passionate about. Entries will be judged by an independent panel of judges on:
- Clarity and artfulness of exposition;
- Originality and persuasiveness of thesis; and
- Ability to enlighten readers with new and valuable information.
The winners will each receive a $1,000 honorarium
The 2021 Kukula Award will be given to two reviewers, one in each category based on the size of the publication or outlet in which the review appeared. (Please note that our size categories have changed since last year’s competition):
- Smaller outlets: fewer than 25 staff (or full-time equivalents)
- Larger outlets: 25 or more staff (or full-time equivalents)
Other eligibility criteria, regardless of publication size:
- Nonfiction book reviews appearing in print, online, or in broadcast media outlets between January 1 and December 31, 2020 are eligible for consideration.
- Reviews may be submitted by individual reviewers or by publications on behalf of a reviewer.
- Applicants may submit up to three separate published reviews for consideration. Submissions may have appeared in a single outlet or in different publications, and may be of any length.
Deadline for entries is Friday, April 2, 2021
To enter, please complete and submit the application form below for each review you’d like us to consider.
There is no application fee. Finalists and winners will be notified in May.
For more information, please email us at KukulaAward@WashingtonMonthly.com
About Kukula Kapoor Glastris
The beloved and brilliant books editor of the Washington Monthly, Kukula (“Kuku” to her legions of friends and fans) made the book review section the home of some of the magazine’s best thinking and writing. A keen editor and diplomatic manager of writers, she served as den mother and provisioner of delicious late-night home-cooked meals to a generation of young Washington Monthly journalists. “I’ve never met anyone whose combination of personal goodness, plus intellectual and professional abilities, exceeded Kukula’s,” journalist James Fallows wrote in The Atlantic.
Born in Tibet to an Indian diplomat who helped the Dalai Lama escape and then took the same route himself—on horseback over the Himalayas—with his family, including his two-year-old daughter, Kuku spent her childhood in India, Senegal, Syria, Germany, and Switzerland, before moving to the United States to attend Indiana University. Over a wide-ranging career, Kuku was a TV talk-show producer in Chicago, a staffer at Ralph Nader’s Center for the Study of Responsive Law in Washington, and a reporter in the Chicago bureau of U.S. News & World Report.
Married for 31 years to her life partner and best friend, Paul Glastris, editor in chief of the Washington Monthly, she viewed their children, Hope and Adam, as her greatest accomplishments.
Kukula died in August 2017 at the age of 59 of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome. To honor her remarkable legacy, her family, friends, and colleagues contributed to a memorial fund that supports this annual journalism award. To learn more about Kukula’s life, please see Kuku: A Love Story or tributes from people who knew and loved her at LifePosts.com.