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Ling Ma, Rebecca Solnit win Kirkus Prizes for fiction and nonfiction books

Ling Ma, author of "Severance."

Ling Ma, author of "Severance."  Credit: Anjali Pinto

Debut novelist Ling Ma has won the Kirkus Prize for fiction for "Severance," a sharp, apocalyptic satire about a Manhattan millennial who watches with horror as her co-workers turn into zombies, mindlessly repeating the same office tasks over and over. The novel was published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Rebecca Solnit won the nonfiction prize for "Call Them by Their True Names," published by Haymarket Books. The timely essays in the collection examine how language shapes political reality in such arenas as electoral politics, police shootings and the Standing Rock pipeline protest. Solnit is the author of more than 20 books, including "River of Shadows," which won the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Lannan Literary Award.

A third prize, for Young People's Literature, went to Derrick Barnes and illustrator Gordon C. James for "Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut," published by Bolden/Agate. The story is a celebration of the urban black barbershop and the joys of a good haircut.

The prize winners were announced at a ceremony on Thursday in Austin, Texas, and each winner will receive a cash prize of $50,000. The winning books were selected from among 1,193 titles that received a starred review from Kirkus, a magazine of prepublication book reviews.

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