Critical Mass, The Blog of the National Book Critics Circle

National Book Critics Circle Announces Finalists for 2016 Awards

by Admin | Jan-17-2017

For Immediate Release:

Contact: Beth Parker, Beth Parker PR, Beth@bethparkerpr.com, 914-629-9205                                                           

Tom Beer, NBCC President, tomnbeer@aol.com

 

NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE ANNOUNCES FINALISTS FOR 2016 AWARDS

 

New York, NY (January 17, 2017)—Today the NBCC announced its 30 finalists in six categories––autobiography, biography, criticism, fiction, nonfiction, and poetry––for the outstanding books of 2016. The winners of three additional prizes (The Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award, The John Leonard Prize and Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing) were also announced. The National Book Critics Circle Awards, begun in 1975 and considered among the most prestigious in American letters, are the sole prizes bestowed by a jury of working critics and book-review editors.

The awards will be presented on March 16, 2017 at the New School in New York City. The ceremony is free and open to the public.

The recipient of the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award is Margaret Atwood. Born in 1939 in Ottawa, Ontario, Margaret Atwood is a poet, novelist, story writer, essayist, and environmental activist. She is the author of some 16 novels, eight collections of short stories, eight children’s books, 17 volumes of poetry, 10 collections of nonfiction, as well as small press editions, television and radio scripts, plays, recordings, and editions. Her lifetime contribution to letters and book culture includes groundbreaking fiction, environmental and feminist activism, and service to community as a cofounder of the Writers’ Trust of Canada. Her books have received critical acclaim in the United States, Europe, and her native Canada, and she has received numerous literary awards, including the Booker Prize, the Arthur C. Clarke Award, and the Governor General’s Award, twice. 

Yaa Gyasi’s debut novel, Homegoing (Alfred A. Knopf) is the recipient of the fourth annual John Leonard Prize, established to recognize outstanding first books in any genre and named in honor of founding NBCC member John Leonard. Finalists for the prize are nominated by more than 700 voting NBCC members nationwide, and the recipient is decided by a volunteer committee of NBCC members.

The recipient of the 2016 Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing is Michelle Dean. Dean's journalism and criticism appears regularly in The Guardian, The New Republic, and a host of other venues. Originally trained as a lawyer, she has been a full-time writer since 2012. Her book about women critics and intellectuals, titled Sharp: The Women Who Made An Art of Having an Opinion, is forthcoming from Grove Atlantic. The Balakian Citation is open to all NBCC members, who submit recent reviews to the 24-person board, which votes on the recipient. The Balakian Citation carries with it a $1,000 cash prize, endowed by NBCC board member Gregg Barrios.

Here is the complete list of NBCC Award finalists for the publishing year 2016:

AUTOBIOGRAPHY

Marion Coutts, The Iceberg (Black Cat Press)

Jenny Diski, In Gratitude (Bloomsbury)

Hope Jahren, Lab Girl (Alfred A. Knopf)

Hisham Matar, The Return: Fathers, Sons, and the Land in Between (Random House)

Kao Kalia Yang, The Song Poet: A Memoir of My Father (Metropolitan Books)

 

BIOGRAPHY

Nigel Cliff, Moscow Nights: The Van Cliburn Story (Harper)

Ruth Franklin, Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life (Liveright)

Joe Jackson, Black Elk: The Life of an American Visionary (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Michael Tisserand, Krazy: George Herriman, a Life in Black and White (Harper)

Frances Wilson, Guilty Thing: A Life of Thomas De Quincey (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

 

CRITICISM

Carol Anderson, White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide (Bloomsbury)

Mark Greif, Against Everything: Essays (Pantheon)

Alice Kaplan, Looking for The Stranger: Albert Camus and the Life of a Literary Classic (University of Chicago Press)

Olivia Laing, The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone (Picador)

Peter Orner, Am I Alone Here?: Notes on Living to Read and Reading to Live (Catapult)

 

FICTION

Michael Chabon, Moonglow (Harper)

Louise Erdrich, LaRose (Harper)

Adam Haslett, Imagine Me Gone (Little, Brown)

Ann Patchett, Commonwealth (Harper)

Zadie Smith, Swing Time (Penguin Press)

 

GENERAL NONFICTION

Matthew Desmond, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City (Crown)

Ibram X. Kendi, Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America (Nation Books)

Jane Mayer, Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right (Doubleday)

Viet Thanh Nguyen, Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War (Harvard University Press)

John Edgar Wideman, Writing to Save a Life: The Louis Till File (Scribner)


POETRY

Ishion Hutchinson, House of Lords and Commons (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux)

Tyehimba Jess, Olio (Wave Books)

Bernadette Mayer, Works and Days (New Directions)

Robert Pinsky, At the Foundling Hospital (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Monica Youn, Blackacre (Graywolf Press)

 

NONA BALAKIAN CITATION FOR EXCELLENCE IN REVIEWING

Michelle Dean

Finalists

Julia M. Klein

Christian Lorentzen

Becca Rothfeld

Leo Robson

 

JOHN LEONARD PRIZE

 

Yaa Gyasi, Homegoing (Alfred A. Knopf)

 

IVAN SANDROF LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

Margaret Atwood

Winners of the National Book Critics Circle awards will be announced on Thursday, March 16, 2016 at 6:30 p.m. at the New School’s Tishman Auditorium, 66 W. 12th St, New York, NY. A finalists’ reading will be held on March 15 at 6:30 p.m. in the same location. Both events are free and open to the public.

ABOUT THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE

The National Book Critics Circle was founded in 1974 at New York’s legendary Algonquin Hotel by a group of the most influential critics of the day, and awarded its first set of honors in 1975. Comprising 1000 working critics and book-review editors throughout the country, including student members and supporting Friends of the NBCC, the organization annually bestows its awards in six categories, honoring the best books published in the past year in the United States. It is considered one of the most prestigious awards in the publishing industry. The finalists for the NBCC awards are nominated, evaluated, and selected by the 24-member board of directors, which consists of editors and critics from the country’s leading print and online publications. For more information about the history and activities of the National Book Critics Circle and to learn how to become a member or supporter, visit http://www.bookcritics.org Follo.w the NBCC on Facebook and on Twitter (@bookcritics).

NBCC Reads Resistance Lit: Ilana Masad on Rowan Hisayo Buchanan’s Harmless Like You

by Ilana Masad | Jan-13-2017

What's your favorite work of resistance literature? That's the question that launches this year's NBCC Reads series, which draws upon the bookish passions of NBCC members and honorees at this time of cultural shift. (NBCC Reads from previous years here.) We're posting these in advance of the #WritersResist events to be held on January 15--Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday-- throughout the country, including an event on the steps of the New York Public LibraryAndrew Solomon, president of NBCC Sandrof-award winning PEN American Center and Trustee Masha Gessen will host; American Poets Laureate Robert Pinsky and Rita Dove will share original "inaugural" poems written for the occasion; and dozens of writers and artists including Laurie Anderson, Mary Karr, A.M. Homes, Michael Cunningham, Jeffrey Eugenides, and others will speak and read on the ideals of democracy.

In Rowan Hisayo Buchanan’s debut novel, Harmless Like You (out in the UK, coming out in the US in February), resistance is a young woman decided to remain in the US and not return with her parents to Japan. It looks like a young woman floating through life and trying to understand herself through other people, and through her art. It’s a young woman trying her hand at photography, and being proud of her work even while she critiques it heavily and wonders if it is ever or will ever be good enough.

Resistance can look like refusing to be content with the cage that has been created for her, gilded and beautiful as it is. It can look like a woman leaving her husband and son and always meaning to go back, but never quite managing to. It can look like a woman deciding to find herself rather than define herself through marriage and motherhood.

Resistance can also look like a young man who grows up without a mother deciding not to care about her. It can look like a young man marrying a woman who fits him, who loves him, and refusing to be nice to her when his father dies. It can be his insistence that he has to keep his bald cat because she gives him comfort in a way that no one else exactly can. Resistance can look like a man not knowing how to love his child but trying, trying, trying. It can look like a man deciding to stay where his mother decided to leave. 

Resistance can look like a 27-year-old author giving life and love to characters who aren’t always loveable, but who resist their own flaws as best they can.

Ilana Masad is a fiction writer and book critic living in New York. Her work has appeared in The Guardian, The New Yorker, The Los Angeles Times, Electric Literature, Broadly, Vice, McSweeney's, and more. She is the founder and host of The Other Stories, a podcast featuring new, emerging, and established fiction writers.

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From the Critical Mass blog

National Book Critics Circle Announces Finalists for 2016 Awards

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