The Washington Monthly is pleased to welcome nominations for the 2023 Kukula Award for Excellence in Nonfiction Book Reviewing. The award 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 noble craft.
Nonfiction book reviewing is a vital aspect of journalism and democracy, 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 comprising veteran journalists, authors, and editors, on their:
- Clear and artful exposition;
- Original and persuasive thesis; and
- Ability to enlighten readers with new and valuable information.
The winners will each receive a $1,000 honorarium.
Entry deadline is Wednesday, March 15, 2023.
See full eligibility details below.
More About the Kukula Award
Now in its fourth season, the Kukula Award is the only journalism prize dedicated to book reviewing of public-affairs focused nonfiction books. The award, and our 2022 winners, were the subject of a full-length feature on C-SPAN’s Book TV “About Books” show last June. (See the segment here or listen to the podcast here.)
Past top prize winners have written for a diverse range of publications, and their exemplary reviews illuminate core issues of our times:
- Laura Miller, in Slate, for her review of “Lucky,” by Alice Sebold.
- Aidan Forth, in The Los Angeles Review of Books, for his review of two books on human rights abuses by the Chinese government, by Darren Byler.
- Carlos Lozada, in The Washington Post, for his review of “White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism,” by Robin DiAngelo.
- Sophie Haigney, in High Country News, for her review of “Yellow Bird: Oil, Murder, and a Woman’s Search for Justice in Indian Country,” by Sierra Crane Murdoch.
- Casey Cep, in The New Yorker, for her review of “Black Radical: The Life and Times of William Monroe Trotter,” by Kerri K. Greenidge.
- Boris Dralyuk, in The Los Angeles Review of Books, for his review of “Stalin’s Scribe: Literature, Ambition, and Survival: The Life of Mikhail Sholokhov,” by Brian J. Boeck.
The 2023 Kukula Award will be given to two reviewers, chosen among ten finalists, in two categories based on the size of the publication or outlet in which the review appeared:
- Smaller outlets: fewer than 25 paid staff (or full-time equivalents)
- Larger outlets: 25 or more paid staff (or full-time equivalents)
You’ll find more detailed eligibility guidelines on the entry form below.
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, 2022 are eligible for consideration.
- Reviews may be submitted by individual reviewers or by publications on behalf of a reviewer.
- Applicants may submit two published reviews for consideration. Submissions may have appeared in a single outlet or in different publications, and may be of any length.
Deadline is Wednesday, March 15, 2023
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 by June.
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 Monthly journalists. “I’ve never met anyone whose combination of personal goodness, plus intellectual and professional abilities, exceeded Kukula’s,” journalist James Fallows wrote at 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 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 age 59 of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome. To honor her remarkable legacy, her family, friends, and colleagues contributed to a memorial fund that supports this book 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.