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The Washington Monthly Announces Winners of its 2021 Kukula Award in Nonfiction Book Reviewing

By on July 4, 2021

The Washington Monthly magazine announced the two winners of its 2021 Kukula Award for Excellence in Nonfiction Book Reviewing—the only journalism prize dedicated to highlighting and encouraging high-quality reviews of serious, public affairs-focused books. The award honors the memory of the late Kukula Kapoor Glastris, the magazine’s longtime and beloved books editor.

In the larger publications category, the winner is 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.

In the smaller publications category, the prize went to 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.

Kukula Kapoor Glastris

Kukula Kapoor Glastris

A panel of seven judges—veteran journalists, editors, and authors—selected the winners and eight other finalists from more than 125 outstanding submissions published in a range of print and online media outlets in 2020. Winners were honored for their clear and artful exposition, original and persuasive thesis, and ability to enlighten readers with new and valuable information. Judges gave priority to works of politics, public affairs, history, and biography.

“These two winners set a standard that all of us who work in this field of serious nonfiction book reviewing should challenge ourselves to meet,” said Washington Monthly editor in chief Paul Glastris, Kukula’s husband of 31 years.

Lozada and Haigney each will receive a $1,000 cash prize.

In a year of historic challenges and social upheaval, these reviews illuminated core and key issues—from racial injustice to the dangers of tech monopolies, from political party realignment and grievance to America’s entanglement in endless wars. Across these topics, “the aim of the Kukula Award is to highlight the work of the talented individuals who practice the undervalued craft of nonfiction book criticism—work Kukula devoted herself to editing and publishing for many years,” said 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,” the journalist James Fallows wrote in The Atlantic.

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