Announcing the Zócalo 2022 Book Prize Shortlist

Congratulations to Authors Heather McGhee, Sam Quinones, Edward Slingerland, and Michael Patrick F. Smith

Announcing the Zócalo 2022 Book Prize Shortlist | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Books shortlisted for the 2022 Zócalo Public Square Book Prize. Graphic design by Hännah Foote.

What is racism costing all of us? How are communities across America battling the opioid crisis? Who are the people drilling in the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota? And just how essential was drunkenness to the creation of civilization as we know it?

These are the questions that animate the four books shortlisted for the 2022 Zócalo Public Square Book Prize. Since 2011, we have awarded this prize annually to the author of the nonfiction book that best enhances our understanding of community and the forces that strengthen or undermine human connectedness and social cohesion.

Congratulations to the authors of this year’s shortlist:
• Heather McGhee, The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together
• Sam Quinones, The Least of Us: True Tales of America and Hope in the Time of Fentanyl and Meth
• Edward Slingerland, Drunk: How We Sipped, Danced, and Stumbled Our Way to Civilization
• Michael Patrick F. Smith, The Good Hand: A Memoir of Work, Brotherhood, and Transformation in an American Boomtown.

We’ll announce our winner in February 2022. They will receive $10,000, deliver a lecture on their book, and take part in a live interview in the spring at the ASU California Center in Los Angeles. (And they’ll be in very good company; see our previous winners here.)

Our shortlist was selected from nearly 200 submissions. The Zócalo staff narrowed this broad, deep field down to just a handful of candidates, considering books written by poets, philosophers, podcasters, evolutionary biologists, visual artists, and urbanists on a wide array of subjects ranging from today’s Los Angeles Latino rockabilly scene to the fall of ancient Angkor, Cambodia.

Now, the task of picking our winning entry is in the hands of this year’s selection committee: Autry Museum of the American West president and CEO Stephen Aron, California State University chancellor Joseph I. Castro, Zócalo trustee Bryan Bowles, The Music Center Arts executive vice president Josephine Ramirez, philanthropist Regina Annenberg Weingarten, and New York Times national editor Jia Lynn Yang, winner of the 2021 Zócalo Book Prize for One Mighty and Irresistible Tide.

Zócalo is a unit of Arizona State University. We are grateful to screenwriter and philanthropist Tim Disney for his continuing sponsorship of our literary prize program, which also includes the Zócalo Poetry Prize. The deadline for submissions to the Poetry Prize, which recognizes the U.S. writer of a poem that best evokes a connection to place, is January 22, 2022.


Send A Letter To the Editors

    Please tell us your thoughts. Include your name and daytime phone number, and a link to the article you’re responding to. We may edit your letter for length and clarity and publish it on our site.

    (Optional) Attach an image to your letter. Jpeg, PNG or GIF accepted, 1MB maximum.