Here Are the Winners of the 2018 Chicago Review of Books Awards

Last Saturday, we announced the third annual Chicago Review of Books Awards during a live ceremony at Volumes Bookcafe. In partnership with the Chicagoland Independent Bookstore Alliance, the “Chirby” awards celebrate the best books published by Chicago-based writers and poets in the past year.

Here are 2018’s winners. Don’t forget about 2016 and 2017!

Best Poetry


Citizen Illegal
By José Olivarez
Haymarket Books

See the other poetry finalists here.

“José Olivarez’s indispensable debut poetry collection, “Citizen Illegal,” is a boisterous, empathetic, funny-yet-serious (but not self-serious) celebratory ode to Chicanx life in the contemporary United States.” —Kathleen Rooney in the Chicago Tribune

Best Nonfiction


Ghosts in the Schoolyard:
Racism and School Closings on Chicago’s South Side
By Eve L. Ewing
University of Chicago Press

See the other nonfiction finalists here.

Ewing’s debut poetry collection, Electric Arches, won our second annual award for poetry last year. Now, she’s back on the shortlist for her nonfiction debut, a compelling, deeply researched look at why the Rahm Emanuel administration closed more than 50 public schools in 2013, and why it matters.

Best Story or Essay

After Unthinkable Loss
By Sarah Conway, Photos by Sebastián Hidalgo
City Bureau / Chicago magazine

See the other story/essay finalists here.

A powerful collaboration between City Bureau, Chicago magazine, Sarah Conway, and photographer Sebastián Hidalgo that lifts the veil of maternal grief for five Chicago women.

Best Fiction


The Great Believers
By Rebecca Makkai

See the other fiction finalists here, or read our interview with Makkai.

In The Great Believers, Makkai has written what is sure to become a classic Chicago novel. In two alternating storylines — one set in Chicago during the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s, the other in contemporary Paris — Makkai sheds light on the millions of tragedies that most American chose . . . and still choose . . . to ignore.

2018 Judges

Judges for the 2018 Chicago Review of Books Awards include many representatives from Chicago’s independent bookstores and the Chicago Independent Bookstore Alliance:

As well as members of the Chicago Review of Books and Arcturus magazine editorial and contributing staffs:

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