Novelist Lily King of Yarmouth has won the first Kirkus Prize for fiction, for her novel “Euphoria.”

Awarded by Kirkus Reviews on Thursday, the new $50,000 prize is among the richest in literature. Winners were announced during an awards ceremony in Austin, Texas.

Judges said her novel “stands out for its perfect construction, its economy and originality, and its fearlessness. This lushly imagined novel offers a thrilling exploration of the interplay between character and culture, between the darkness of humanity and the tenderness of the human heart. It’s going to be a classic.”

King, 51, edged out another Maine writer for the prize. Farmington’s Bill Roorbach was nominated for his novel “The Remedy for Love.”

Melissa Sweet, a children’s book illustrator from Rockport, was nominated in the young readers’ category for “The Right Word: Roget and his Thesaurus.” That award went to Kate Samworth for “Aviary Wonders Inc.: Spring Catalog and Instruction Manual.”

The prize for nonfiction went to Roz Chast for “Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant?”

The Kirkus Prize is the latest award for “Euphoria,” King’s fourth novel. The book won the New England Book Award for fiction, and director Michael Apted is adapting it for a movie. It will be released in paperback in the spring.

It is based on the life of anthropologist Margaret Mead. Set in New Guinea in 1933, it recounts a love triangle that emerges among a group of anthropologists conducting research.