Final Report on the Strand Critics Awards…

(S.A. Cosby, Kotaro Isaka, Nelson DeMille, Sandra Brown, and Morgan Entrekin took home the top awards via a virtual ceremony held on Monday, September 19.)

The Best Novel Award went to S. A. Cosby for Razorblade Tears, while Kotaro Isaka took home the Best Debut Novel Award for Bullet Train.

Razorblade Tears was published in 2021 to commercial and critical acclaim and won several other awards. “ I want to give my sincere thanks to The Strand and all the readers who have connected with my work,” said Cosby. “Writing can be a lonely business, but it is incredibly gratifying when you see your work connect with people.”

Japanese author Kotaro Isaka took home debut novel honors for Bullet Train. “I had been eager to find out how my work would be received by American readers,” said Kotaro Isaka. “I’m very happy that Bullet Train won the Strand Critics Award.”


Sandra Brown and Nelson DeMille Receive Lifetime Achievement Awards

In a writing career spanning several decades, Sandra Brown has stood out as one of the most creative practitioners of the romantic suspense novel. Over 50 of her novels have been New York Times Bestsellers, with two of her novels adapted into television films. “Being given a Lifetime Achievement Award from The Strand is a distinction I would never have imagined receiving, because the previous awardees are the royalty of storytellers,” said Brown. “I’m humbled, thrilled and grateful to have my name added to that list.”

Sandra Brown

Nelson DeMille

In 1978 Nelson DeMille’s first novel By The Rivers of Bablyon was published and launched a career that has seen his books hit #1 on The New York Times Bestseller list 7 times. In a career that has seen him write 22 novels, he has rightly earned the reputation as being one of our generation’s most talented and successful thriller authors.


The Strand is one of my favorite literary magazines,” said DeMille.

“So it’s a double honor to be recognized by The Strand with a Lifetime Achievement Award.”


The Strand Magazine’s Publisher of the Year Award recognizes excellence in publishing…

This year’s recipient is Morgan Entrekin, publisher of Grove/Atlantic. For several decades Grove/Atlantic under Entrekin’s visionary leadership has earned a reputation as one of the most dynamic, successful, and innovative independent publishers in the United States.  Over the past four decades, he’s published scores of literary legends and authors whose works are destined to become classics including, Samuel Beckett, Jorge Luis Borges, William Burroughs,  Joyce Carol Oates, Kiran Desai, Anne Enright, Francisco Goldman, Donna Leon, Catherine Millet, Kenzaburo Oe, Val McDermid, Mark Billingham, Harold Pinter, and Tom Stoppard.

Morgan Entrekin

“I have been an avid reader of crime fiction since I picked up a waterlogged Travis McGee novel by the great John D. MacDonald at a Florida vacation house when I was 11 or 12 years old,” says Entrekin. “Over the last 20 years we have built a wonderful list of great authors at Grove Atlantic and I am excited and honored to be selected publisher of the year.”



“Morgan Entrekin is a legend in the publishing world,” said Managing Editor,  Andrew F. Gulli. “His enthusiasm for the written word is touching, the support he gives to his authors unique, and the excellent and dedicated team at Grove/Atlantic is reflection of his visionary leadership.”


The Critics Awards were judged by a select group of book critics from NPR, The Boston Globe, the Associated Press, CNN and The Wall Street Journal.


Best Novel (2021)

The Dark Hours by Michael Connelly (Little, Brown and Co.)

Razorblade Tears by S. A. Cosby (Flatiron Books)

The Low Desert by Tod Goldberg (Counterpoint)

These Toxic Things by Rachel Howzell Hall (Thomas and Mercer)

Dream Girl by Laura Lippman (William Morrow)

1979 by Val McDermid (Atlantic Monthly)



Best Debut Novel (2021)

Who Is Maud Dixon? by Alexandra Andrews (Little, Brown and Co.)
The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris (Atria Books)

Bullet Train by Kōtarō Isaka, Translated by Sam Malissa (Harry Abrams)

Lightseekers by Femi Kayode (Mulholland Books)
Velvet Was the Night
by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Del Rey)

All Her Little Secrets by Wanda M. Morris (William Morrow)



Lifetime Achievement Awards

Nelson DeMille

Sandra Brown


Publisher of the Year Award

Morgan Entrekin