Kirkus Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (or Kirkus Media) is an American book review magazine founded in 1933 by Virginia Kirkus (1893–1980).[1] The magazine is headquartered in New York City.[2]

Kirkus Reviews
EditorVirginia Kirkus (1933 – July 1962)
CategoriesBook reviews
PublisherVirginia Kirkus Bookshop Service, Virginia Kirkus Service, Inc. (from 1962), and others
Kirkus Media, LLC (from 2010)
First issueJanuary 1933 (1933-01)
CountryUnited States
Based inNew York City, New York, U.S.


Kirkus Reviews, published on the first and 15th of each month, previews books before their publication. Kirkus reviews over 7,000 titles per year.[1][3]


Virginia Kirkus was hired by Harper & Brothers to establish a children's book department in 1926. The department was eliminated as an economy measure in 1932 (for about a year), so Kirkus left and soon established her own book review service.[4] Initially, she arranged to get galley proofs of "20 or so" books in advance of their publication; almost 80 years later, the service was receiving hundreds of books weekly and reviewing about 100.[3]

Initially titled Bulletin by Kirkus' Bookshop Service from 1933 to 1954, the title was changed to Bulletin from Virginia Kirkus' Service from the January 1, 1955 issue onwards, and successively shortened to Virginia Kirkus' Service with the December 15, 1964 issue, and Kirkus Service in 1967, before it attained its definitive title, Kirkus Reviews, with the January 1, 1969, issue.

In 1985 Anne Larsen was brought on as fiction editor, soon to become editor, remaining the editorial head of Kirkus until 2006 and modifying the review format and style for improved readability, concision, accuracy, and impact.


It was sold to The New York Review of Books in 1970 and subsequently sold by the Review to Barbara Bader and Josh Rubins, who served also as the publication's editors. In 1985, magazine consultant James B. Kobak acquired Kirkus Reviews.[5] David LeBreton bought Kirkus from Kobak in 1993.[6] BPI Communications, owned by Dutch publisher VNU, bought Kirkus from LeBreton in 1999.[7] At the end of 2009, the company announced the end of operations for Kirkus.[1]

The journal was purchased from VNU (by then renamed The Nielsen Company, or Nielson N.V.) on February 10, 2010 by businessman Herbert Simon. Terms were not disclosed. It was thereafter renamed Kirkus Media, and book industry veteran Marc Winkelman was made publisher.[8]


Kirkus, in 2017, removed its starred review of Laura Moriarty's novel American Heart after, as editor-in-chief Claiborne Smith said in interviews with Vulture and NPR, noticing the book's "white point of view" and "public concern" about the novel's alleged “white savior narrative."[9] The reviewer, a Muslim woman with expertise in young adult fiction, rewrote her text, adding that the story is "told exclusively through the filter of a white protagonist about a Muslim character," while the magazine removed the star.[10] The novel's author Laura Moriarty commented that "the takeaway [from this episode] for white writers is don't even try to write about people who are different from you."[10]

Kirkus Prize

In 2014, Kirkus Reviews started the Kirkus Prize, bestowing $50,000 prizes annually to authors of fiction, nonfiction, and young readers’ literature.[11]


Year Award Title Author Publisher
2014[12]FictionEuphoriaLily KingAtlantic Monthly
NonfictionCan't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?Roz ChastBloomsbury
Young ReadersAviary Wonders Inc.: Spring Catalog and Instruction ManualKate SamworthClarion Books
2015[13]FictionA Little LifeHanya YanagiharaPan Macmillan
NonfictionBetween the World and Me: Notes on the First 150 Years in AmericaTa-Nehisi CoatesRandom House
Young ReadersEchoPam Muñoz RyanScholastic Press
2016[14]FictionThe Sport of KingsC.E. MorganFarrar Straus & Giroux
NonfictionIn the DarkroomSusan FaludiHarperCollins
Young ReadersAs Brave as YouJason ReynoldsAtheneum
2017[15]FictionWhat It Means When A Man Falls From The SkyLesley Nneka ArimahFarafina Books
NonfictionThe Gulf: The Making of an American SeaJack E. DavisNorton
Young ReadersThe Marrow ThievesCherie DimalineDancing Cat Books
2018[16]FictionSeveranceLing MaFarrar Straus & Giroux
NonfictionCall Them By Their True Names: American CrisesRebecca SolnitHaymarket Books
Young ReadersCrown: An Ode to the Fresh CutDerrick Barnes, illustrated by Gordon C. JamesBolden/Agate


  1. Rich, Motoko (December 11, 2009). "End of Kirkus Reviews Brings Anguish and Relief". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on October 29, 2011. Retrieved November 21, 2011.
  2. "Contact Us". Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved January 22, 2016.
  3. "Kirkus Reviews History". Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved November 15, 2012.
  4. Marcus, Leonard S. (2008). Minders of Make-Believe. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. pp. 104, 111. ISBN 978-0-395-67407-9.
  5. Dougherty, Philip H. (April 4, 1985). "Consultant Acquires Kirkus Reviews". The New York Times. Retrieved November 12, 2012.
  6. "Kirkus Reviews being acquired". Publishers Weekly. August 23, 1993. Archived from the original on May 21, 2013. Retrieved November 12, 2012.
  7. "Kirkus Reviews Acquired By Publisher of Billboard". August 2, 1999. Archived from the original on January 27, 2013. Retrieved November 12, 2012.
  8. Rich, Motoko (February 10, 2010). "Kirkus Gets a New Owner – From the N.B.A." The New York Times. Retrieved March 22, 2012.
  9. Heller, Nathan (23 October 2017). "Kirkus Reviews and the Plight of the "Problematic" Book Review". The New Yorker. ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  10. Neary, Lynn (21 October 2017). "Kirkus Changes Review After 'American Heart' Draws Outrage As 'White Savior Narrative'". NPR. ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  11. Colin Dwyer (2014-09-30). "First-Ever Kirkus Prize Picks 18 Finalists : The Two-Way". NPR. Retrieved 2015-11-23.
  12. White, Caitlin. "Women Take Home All Three 2014 Kirkus Prizes". Bustle. Retrieved 2018-09-26.
  13. "2015 Finalists | Kirkus Reviews". Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved 2018-09-26.
  14. "2016 Kirkus Prize Winners Announced". the American Booksellers Association. 2016-11-03. Retrieved 2018-09-26.
  15. Reviews, Kirkus (2017-11-07). "The Winners Of The 2017 Kirkus Prize". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2018-09-26.
  16. "2018 Finalists | Kirkus Reviews". Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved 2018-10-30.


  • "Kirkus Reviews splits from NYRB". Library Journal. 107. June 15, 1982. p. 1164. ISSN 0363-0277.
  • "Kirkus Reviews closes". Library Journal. 135.1. January 2010. pp. 16–17.
  • "Kirkus Reviews finds buyer". Library Journal. 135.2. February 2010. p. 13.
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