The Washington Monthly is proud to announce the inaugural Kukula Award for Excellence in Nonfiction Book Reviewing. The award, new in 2020, 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.
In 2020, we will 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 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 2020 Kukula Award will be given to two reviewers in categories based on the size of the publication or outlet in which the review appeared:
— Category 1: Smaller outlets: fewer than 12 editorial staff
— Category 2: Larger outlets: 12+ editorial staff
Other eligibility criteria, regardless of outlet size:
* Nonfiction book reviews appearing in print, online, or in broadcast media outlets between January 1 and December 31, 2019 are eligible for consideration.
* Reviews may be submitted by individual reviewers or by publications on behalf of a reviewer.
* Applicants may submit up to four reviews for consideration. Submissions may have appeared in a single outlet or in different publications.
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 new 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.