January, 2015

30 Books in 30 Days: Mark Athitakis on Eula Biss’ ‘On Immunity’

by Mark Athitakis | Jan-29-2015

In the weeks leading up to the March 12 announcement of the 2014 NBCC award winners, Critical Mass highlights the thirty finalists. Today, NBCC board member Mark Athitakis offers an appreciation of criticism finalist Eula Biss's "On Immunity" (Graywolf Press).

A measles outbreak at Disneyland last December put the spotlight once again on the anti-vaccination movement. In its wake, the media snapped to its old habit of saying this was a story with two sides: traditionalists who adhered to childhood vaccination as a social good, and “anti-vaxxers” who, armed with what they claimed was persuasive evidence, insisted that vaccines are potential toxins. Who’s right, who’s wrong, who can tell?

Eula Biss recognizes this pantomime of even-handedness for the foolishness that it is. But her remarkable cultural study of vaccination, "On Immunity: An Inoculation," is more than a debunking of anti-vaxxer pseudoscience. It is a sharp collection of personal observations about what it means to be a mother protecting her child; it is an exploration of the metaphors of medicine that matches Susan Sontag on her own turf; and, perhaps most powerfully, it is a keenly observed survey of the culture of fear that pervades American culture when it comes to living with people we perceive as different from us---indeed, when it comes to living with other people, period.

In that last regard, "On Immunity" is a close cousin of her previous book, "Notes From No-Man’s Land," recipient of the NBCC’s 2009 criticism award and a wide-ranging look at the intersection of fear and American racism. And in the same fashion, Biss understands how the words we use on the topic of vaccination matter: the language of vaccination is framed around metaphors of war, vampirism, penetration. Vaccination, Biss explains, succeeds thanks to herd immunity---the notion that the risk of contagion is reduced when large groups are inoculated against it. A country like the United States, proud of its independence and suspect of others, will always find “herd immunity” threatening. Get enough people who feel that way in one place, and it’s no surprise the Magic Kingdom caught a virus.

The absurdity of all this, Biss explains, is that we have bigger things to be afraid of. “We do not tend to be afraid of the things that are most likely to harm us,” she writes. “We drive around in cars, a lot. We drink alcohol, we ride bicycles, we sit too much. And we harbor anxiety about things that, statistically speaking, pose us little danger.” Biss feels no need to match the anti-vaxxers’ polemicism; indeed, its key strength is that its calm, observant tone models the kind of sensibility necessary to get the country on the same page on this topic. Though its argument resists reduction to sound-bites, the force of intelligence in "On Immunity" may serve, in its own way, to send a message.

Review by Parul Sehgal in the New York Times Book Review.

Review by David Ulin in the Los Angeles Times.

Review by Mark O’Connell in Slate.

Interview with Mark Athitakis in the Barnes & Noble Review.

30 Books: Carmela Ciuraru on Rabih Alameddine’s ‘An Unnecessary Woman’

by Carmela Ciuraru | Jan-28-2015

In the weeks leading up to the March 12 announcement of the 2014 NBCC award winners, Critical Mass highlights the thirty finalists. Today, NBCC board member Carmela Ciuraru offers an appreciation of fiction finalist Rabih Alameddine's "An Unnecessary Woman'" (Grove Press).

Rabih Alameddine’s exquisitely written novel is a remarkable feat. Not only does he convincingly inhabit the voice of a misanthropic 72-year-old woman in Beirut, but he makes us care for her from the first page.

Childless, divorced, and lonely, Aaliya Saleh is an indelible protagonist. Every year for the past 50 years, she has translated a novel into classical Arabic and stored the manuscript in a box, with no aim toward publication. This labor of love is her secret alone. “Books into boxes—boxes of paper, loose translated sheets. That’s my life,” she says. (Her most recent project is W. G. Sebald’s Austerlitz, and she hopes to tackle Roberto Bolaño’s 2666 next.) Once the translation is completed, she loses interest and moves onto the next one.

Aaliya lives alone and talks to almost no one, including her busybody neighbors. In the absence of friends or family, books are her faithful companions: she leans on Pessoa, Rilke, Proust, Cavafy and others as she meditates on the past. “I long ago abandoned myself to a blind lust for the written word,” she says. “Literature is my sandbox. In it I play, build my forts and castles, spend glorious time. It is the world outside that box that gives me trouble.” Although her loneliness causes terrible anguish, she finds herself unable to interact easily with others—“the presence of other people derails my mind,” she admits. “I can’t seem to think clearly, or behave naturally, or just be. These days I avoid people, and they avoid me.”

There isn’t much in the way of plot in “The Unnecessary Woman,” which is one of its great virtues. The reader is immersed in Aaliya’s reflections for nearly 300 pages, as she shares her (rather dark and often funny) thoughts on love, aging, politics, literature, and grief, among other things.


Interview with Rabih Alameddine

Review of An Unnecessary Woman

30 Books in 30 Days: Karen Long on Lacy M. Johnson’s ‘The Other Side’

by Karen Long | Jan-27-2015

In the weeks leading up to the March 12 announcement of the 2014 NBCC award winners, Critical Mass highlights the thirty finalists. Today, NBCC board member Karen Long offers an appreciation of Lacy M. Johnson's autobiography finalist '"The Other Side" (Tin House).

While working on “The Other Side,” Lacy M. Johnson told acquaintances that her book was “about violence and memory and the body.” Or she would reply “it’s about violence and desire.” In the text, she writes that it seemed borderline rude to say “it is about the time I was kidnapped and raped by a man I used to live with.” So she didn’t.

But 14 years later, she does. Johnson meditates only sparingly on the crime, but dwells considerably on what it has wrought. She considers the consequences of the sound-proof room where her ex took her captive, tied her with chains and ropes and a dog collar, wept and raged, then described to her the sequence of discrete acts that would culminate in her death.  From this horror, Johnson wrests an act of literature.

In the telling, she makes no false choices. Johnson begins and ends at the only place bearable for the reader: her escape. Naked except for a U-bolt dangling from her wrist, she burst free, found her car, covered by a beige tarp in the apartment’s gravel parking lot, and managed to drive it to a police station.  

On the first page, she is interrogating her memory: were her arms flailing?  Did she reach the station at 10 p.m., as the police report states, or 11 p.m., as she remembers the clock?  Why did she picture a police officer who looked vaguely like her uncle when the official report describes a woman as the first officer who assists her?

Johnson is a poet in Houston; she takes exquisite care with language. Her words are devoid of self-pity; she recalls the long downward drift of her romance with her university Spanish instructor in clean, declarative sentences. She makes plain her own heedless decisions without flinching, or explanation. But she ends “The Other Side” with 23 pages of notes, unusual in memoir, that explore snippets of philosophy and psychology on trauma and memory, plumb the lines of Louise Gluck and the insights of Frederick Douglass, Simone de Beauvoir, Octavio Paz and Katie Roiphe, among others.

When he saw the police cars at his apartment complex, Johnson’s ex fled immediately to Mexico, then Venezuela. He was charged --kidnapping, rape, forcible sodomy and felonious restraint – and the Venezuelan extradition transcript shows that “he explains to the court that they must understand that this is a ridiculous farce initiated by a bunch of hillbillies. He explains how it looks in the United States for an older man to be with a beautiful young girl, and to be Latin on top of that in a place where to be Latin is to be black.”  He admits in court that he kidnapped Johnson and tied her up, but only because he wanted an apology. And the Venezuelan authorities release him.

This information comes to the reader in nonlinear shards. The language itself is distilled, almost epigrammatic: “In which direction do I travel today? Away and back.”  Or, “It’s strange, I think now, even when the mind forgets, the body remembers.”

Domestic violence is notoriously under-reported. And what Johnson has captured on the page doesn’t translate into statistics.  Still, the American Bar Association reports that approximately 1.3 million women are “physically assaulted by an intimate partner annually in the United States.”  When the elevator video came to light last year of Baltimore Raven running back Ray Rice battering Janey Palmer, chatter erupted across the nation over Palmer’s marrying and remaining with Rice.

In “The Other Side,” Johnson writes, “Did you ever, My Newest Therapist, finally asks . . . even once, tell anyone the truth about what was happening to you? No, not ever, I say. I still don’t understand it myself.”

Here are a few links:

Los Angeles Review review.

The Rumpus interview.

Tin House interview.

Wall Street Journal review.

San Francisco Chronicle review.

Roundup: 2014 NBCC finalists, George Pelecanos, Peter Carey, Marilynne Robinson and more

by Eric Liebetrau | Jan-26-2015

Your reviews seed this roundup; please send items, including new about your new publications and recent honors, to [email protected]. Make sure to send links that do not require a subscription or username and password.


Press Coverage for NBCC Award Finalists

Critical Mass; Associated PressWashington PostNew York TimesLos Angeles TimesSan Francisco ChronicleThe MillionsShelf AwarenessPublisher's Lunch; finalist Hector Tobar's "Deep Down Dark," a selection of the NPR Book Club; Electric LiteraturePBS NewsHourNewsdaySeattle TimesClaudia Rankine in Triquarterly; Jonathon Sturgeon in Flavorwire on Rankine's poetry; the Houston Chronicle on Lacy M. JohnsonCleveland Plain Dealer; Galleycat; New Yorker


Julia M. Klein reviews Michael Mewshaw's "Sympathy for the Devil" for the Boston Globe. 2013 Balakian winner Katherine A. Powers reviews also reviews the Mewshaw book.

NBCC board member Steven Kellman reviews Peter Carey's "Amnesia."

David Duhr reviews ‘See How Small.’ by Scott Blackwood.

"Cosby," and Other Cautionary Tales, from Gayle Feldman.

Heather Scott Partington reviews Sarah Gerard's "Binary Star." Partington also reviews Paula Hawkins' "The Girl on The Train."

Gerald Bartell reviews ‘White Plague,’ a thriller by James Abel. 

Clea Simon reviews "Descent" by Tim Johnston. Simon also reviews ‘Mort(e)’ by Robert Repino.

Michael Broida reviews Jose Saramago's "new" novel, "Skylight."

NBCC board member Mark Athitakis reviews "The Martini Shot," by George Pelecanos.

Gregory Wilkin reviews Paul Strohm's "Chaucer's Tale."

NBCC board member Eric Liebetrau reviews ‘The Man Who Couldn’t Stop’ by David Adam.

John Domini reviews "Sympathy for the Devil" by Michael Mewshaw. Domini also reviews the fiction of Laura Van den Berg and Jenny Erpenbeck.

Micah McCrary reviews the multimedia edition of Eric LeMay's "In Praise of Nothing: Essays, Memoir, and Experiments." He also interviews finalist Eula Biss.

Megan O'Grady interviews Rachel Cusk for Vogue.

Priscilla Gilman reviews Nicholas Delbanco's "The Year."

NBCC board member Colette Bancroft reviews Edith Pearlman's new book.

Christi Clancy reviews Melissa Falcon Field's debut novel.

George De Stefano reviews “Cairo Pop” by Daniel J. Gilman.

"Reading Security," by Randon Billings Noble.

Susan Froetschel's fifth mystery novel, "Allure of Deceit," will be released in February by Seventh Street Books. Her previous book, "Fear of Beauty," received the Youth Literature Award from the Middle East Outreach Council.

Philip Belcher reviews "Broken Hierarchies" by Geoffrey Hill.

Marion Winik on Kevin Deutsch's "The Triangle" in Newsday. Winik also reviews "The Girl on the Train" and "Her."

"A Japanese Novelist Takes on the Dominance of English," by Chuck Twardy.

Eileen Weiner reviews "West of Sunset" by Stewart O'Nan.

From Woody Brown: "Miranda July: Friends Become Enemies? Enemies Become Friends?"

Grace Bello interviews Nellie Hermann, author of the new novel about Vincent van Gogh "The Season of Migration" for Columbia University.

Jacob Siefring reviews Marie NDiaye’s latest two books in English translation, "All My Friends" and "Self-Portrait in Green."

NBCC board member Jane Ciabattari's @BBCCulture column offers 10 "Classics to worth reading in 2015, from Proust to Doris Lessing to Trollope to Virginia Woolf's "The Waves."

Roxana Robinson reviews Marilynne Robinson’s "Lila."

Carl Rollyson reviews "Selected Letters of Norman Mailer."

Andrew Cleary reviews Andrew Keen's "The Internet Is Not The Answer."

Lori Feathers reviews "Self Portrait in Green" by Marie NDiaye. Feathers also reviews "Jerusalem" by Gonçalo M. Tavares.

30 Books in 30 Days: Steven G. Kellman on Ezra Greenspan’s ‘William Wells Brown’

by Steven G. Kellman | Jan-23-2015

In the weeks leading up to the March 12 announcement of the 2014 NBCC award winners, Critical Mass highlights the thirty finalists. Today, NBCC board member Steven G. Kellman offers an appreciation of Ezra Greenspan's biography finalist, 'William Wells Brown: An American Life' (W.W. Norton).

The laws of cultural ergonomics dictate that the collective consciousness can accommodate only one name at a time. For Portuguese poetry, it is exclusively Fernando Pessoa. For Finnish composers, it is Jan Sibelius. Martin Luther King, Jr. functions as synecdoche for the civil rights movement that also included Ralph Abernathy, Julian Bond, Stokley Carmichael, James Farmer, A. Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin, Roy Wilkins, and Whitney Young, Jr. Among African American Abolitionists, the only – illustrious – name with wide currency is Frederick Douglass.

Largely forgotten, except by specialists, is William Wells Brown (ca. 1814-1884), Douglass’s comrade and rival. Like Douglass, Brown wrote a dramatic account of his escape from slavery and used his freedom to campaign for the freedom of others. Both men were charismatic public speakers. Douglass left behind 7,400 items – correspondence, speeches, memoirs, articles, financial documents – that have been assembled for the convenience of researchers at the Library of Congress. But part of the reason for Brown’s neglect is that most of his papers have been lost. Absent an archive, a conscientious biographer needs to be shrewd and resourceful in gleaning clues about a life in an era not nearly as meticulous about keeping records, especially of black people, as our own.

Ezra Greenspan is such a biographer, and he has assembled the portrait of “an endlessly energetic, inquisitive, sociable man” who came into contact with many of the leading figures of his time, from William Lloyd Garrison and Wendell Phillips to Charles Dickens and Victor Hugo. He makes a compelling case for Brown as “the most pioneering and accomplished African American writer and cultural impresario of the nineteenth century.” Greenspan’s is the first attempt at recounting Brown’s life since Lucille Schulberg Warner published From Slave to Abolitionist, aimed at young readers, in 1976. And it is the first full biography of Brown since William Edward Farrison’s trailblazing study in 1969. It is likely to be definitive for some time.

Brown was born in Kentucky, to a slave named Elizabeth, but his father, whom he never met, was a white planter named George Higgins whose cousin, Thomas Young, owned Elizabeth. Brown was sold several times, but at age 20 he made a daring escape from a steamboat docked in Cincinnati. Brown would travel widely, indefatigably, for the cause of abolition. Deprived of a formal education, he was a voracious autodidact who reconstructed himself as an orator, performer, author, and physician.

In Europe as a delegate to the International Peace Congress, Brown found it prudent to stay there for five years after passage of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. Greenspan characterizes Brown’s European interlude – during which he traveled about 25,000 miles, gave more than 1,000 talks, and wrote Three Years in Europe: or Places I Have Seen And People I Have Met (1852), the first travelogue by an African American, and Clotel (1853), considered the first novel by an African American - as “a period of productivity unprecedented in African American literary history.”

Back in the United States, Brown continued to campaign as what he called “a soldier in this moral warfare against the most cruel system of oppression that ever blackened the character or hardened the heart of man.” He was a mesmerizing performance artist who sang to audiences and employed magic lantern slides and painted panoramas to create multi-media events. The Escape, or a Leap for Freedom (1858), the first published play by an African American, became a tour-de-force in which Brown, its author, played all the parts.

Greenspan does a deft job of unraveling the ideological differences and personality conflicts in the movement to end slavery. When emancipation ended abolitionist activism, Brown turned his energies to the temperance movement and even ran, unsuccessfully, as a Prohibition candidate for a seat in the Massachusetts Senate. According to Greenspan, Brown and his fictional characters were “quick-change artists who reinvented themselves whenever circumstances required.” As if to demonstrate that he was not a slave even to conventional expectations, Brown defied the boundaries of the separate roles - lecturer, novelist, playwright, historian, physician – he played. Greenspan’s painstakingly researched biography brings a vibrant figure back to life.

New York Times   review.

Kansas City Star review.

San Francisco Chronicle review.

Washington Post review.

Texas Observer review.

30 Books in 30 Days: Rigoberto González on Saeed Jones’ ‘Prelude to Bruise’

by Rigoberto González | Jan-22-2015

In the weeks leading up to the March 12 announcement of the 2014 NBCC award winners, Critical Mass highlights the thirty finalists. Today, NBCC board member Rigoberto González offers an appreciation of Saeed Jones' poetry finalist, 'Prelude to Bruise' (Coffee House Press, 2014).

In the poem “Boy in a Stolen Evening Gown,” a young man escapes into the fields to prance in a chiffon dress in the privacy of his fantasy. He projects onto the dress his desire for masculine attention and a hunger for the feminine glamour he doesn’t feel entitled to in his male body, perhaps even his black body—both parts of his identity make him susceptible to different kinds of pains and dangers in the American South, inside and outside his African American community. But in this moment of agency, he becomes consumed by the hopeful knowledge that he will persevere, that there’s a future to behold—a reality beyond the fantasy—in which he will certainly be loved, but most importantly, in which he will continue to define and celebrate his sexuality, his true self:



Call me and I’m at your side,

one wildflower behind my ear. Ask me

and I’ll slip out of this softness, the dress


a black cloud at my feet. I could be the boy

wearing nothing, a negligee of gnats.


But before this youth finds his way to happiness, he must journey through the troubling encounters, heartaches and dilemmas of a gay and black adolescence. He must learn to navigate those sacred spaces—church, neighborhood streets, home—that demand certain expressions of masculinity in order to earn membership but also safety. Any misstep, any wrong turn, can become the prelude to a bruise:


Each time, strangers find me

drawing my own chalk outline on the sidewalk, cursing

with a mouth full of iron,


furious at my own pulse.


Jones’ haunting lyricism creates a portrait of hard-won self-realization, of a young man’s determined struggle, pushing through doubt and distress with the strength of his imagination and verve. The oppressive climate of community and society are likened to the invasive vine kudzu, anthropomorphized in these lines: “How you mistake/ my affection./ If I ever strangled sparrows,/ it was only because I dreamed/ of better songs.” From this the young man understands that his own landscape will overwhelm or even kill him if he doesn’t fight back.

Prelude to Bruise, with its stunning imagery and courage, is one of those rare debut collections of poetry that has earned widespread popularity and critical praise. The book’s poignant exploration of that intersection between sexuality and race, its heartbreaking perspective, have earned Saeed Jones, a first-book author, a place among the more seasoned finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry.   



New York Times Essay.

Flavorwire Interview.

Tin House Interview with Maud Newton.

Time.com Conversation.

PEN America Interview.

NPR Review.

Publishers Weekly Starred Review.

Brooklyn Magazine Review.

Lambda Literary Review.

Post No Ills Review.


by Admin | Jan-19-2015


Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award is given to Toni Morrison

New York, NY (January 20, 2015) Today, the NBCC announced its 30 finalists in six categories––autobiography, biography, criticism, fiction, general nonfiction, and poetry–for the best books of 2014. The winners of an additional three prizes were announced as well. The National Book Critics Circle Awards, founded in 1974 at the Algonquin Hotel 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 12, 2015 at the New School, in a ceremony that is free and open to the public.

For the first time in NBCC history a single book has been nominated in two categories: Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric published by Graywolf Press is a nominee in both Poetry and Criticism. “Claudia Rankine’s Citizen is a book of prose poetry whose inventive composition and topical content invite readers to consider different avenues toward the urgent conversation about race and politics in America. Rankine’s appearance on two separate categories is a testament to her book’s complexity, narrative reach and artistry,” says Rigoberto Gonzalez, Chair of the Poetry committee.

The recipient of the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award is Toni Morrison. Morrison, 83, has been a powerful catalyst in reshaping literary culture over the past half century. Her lifetime of achievement includes much more than her canonical novels, honored with the 1977 NBCC fiction award for Song of Solomon, the 1988 Pulitzer for Beloved, and the 1993 Nobel Prize in Literature. During two decades as a book editor, Morrison brought into print the landmark narrative The Black Book (1974) and the work of Toni Cade Bambara and Gayl Jones, among others. From her post-graduate days in the late 1950s, when she taught at her alma mater, Howard University, until 2006, when she retired from Princeton, Morrison has influenced generations of students. Her work as a cultural critic includes Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination and What Moves at the Margin: Selected Nonfiction (2008); she edited Burn This Book: PEN Writers Speak Out on the Power of the Word and serves on the editorial board of The Nation. As a frequent public spokesperson for freedom of expression, the power of the written word, and the role of the artist, Toni Morrison has articulated a vision of the role of the writer that is both courageous and inspiring.

Phil Klay’s short story collection Redeployment (Penguin Press) is the recipient of the John Leonard Prize, established in 2014 to recognize outstanding first books in any genre. Named to honor the memory of founding NBCC member John Leonard, the prize is uniquely decided by a direct vote of the organization’s 700 members nationwide, whereas the traditional awards are nominated and chosen by the elected 24-member board of directors.

The recipient of the 2014 Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing is Alexandra Schwartz. Ms. Schwartz is an assistant editor at the New Yorker and a regular contributor to the magazine’s website. Her writing has also appeared in The Nation, The New York Times, and The New Republic. She was previously a member of the editorial staff of the New York Review of Books, and, before that, lived and worked in France. She grew up in New York City and lives in Brooklyn. For the third time in its 28-year history, the Balakian Citation carries with it a $1,000 cash prize, generously endowed by NBCC board member Gregg Barrios.


National Book Critics Circle Finalists

Publishing Year 2014



Blake Bailey, The Splendid Things We Planned: A Family Portrait (W.W. Norton & Co.)

Roz Chast, Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? (Bloomsbury)

Lacy M. Johnson, The Other Side (Tin House)

Gary Shteyngart, Little Failure (Random House)

Meline Toumani, There Was and There Was Not (Metropolitan Books)



Ezra Greenspan, William Wells Brown: An African American Life (W.W. Norton & Co.)

S.C. Gwynne, Rebel Yell: The Violence, Passion and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson (Scribner)

John Lahr, Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh (W.W. Norton & Co.)

Ian S. MacNiven, “Literchoor Is My Beat”: A Life of James Laughlin, Publisher of New Directions (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

Miriam Pawel, The Crusades of Cesar Chavez: A Biography (Bloomsbury)



Eula Biss, On Immunity: An Innoculation (Graywolf Press)

Vikram Chandra, Geek Sublime: The Beauty of Code, the Code of Beauty (Graywolf Press)

Claudia Rankine, Citizen: An American Lyric (Graywolf Press)

Lynne Tillman, What Would Lynne Tillman Do? (Red Lemonade)

Ellen Willis, The Essential Ellen Willis, edited by Nona Willis Aronowitz (University of Minnesota Press)



Rabih Alameddine, An Unnecessary Woman (Grove Press)

Marlon James, A Brief History of Seven Killings (Riverhead Books)

Lily King, Euphoria (Atlantic Monthly Press)

Chang-rae Lee, On Such a Full Sea (Riverhead Books)

Marilynne Robinson, Lila (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)



David Brion Davis, The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Emancipation (Alfred A. Knopf)

Peter Finn and Petra Couvee, The Zhivago Affair: The Kremlin, the CIA, and the Battle over a Forbidden Book (Pantheon)

Elizabeth Kolbert, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History (Henry Holt & Co.)

Thomas Piketty, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, translated from the French by Arthur Goldhammer (Belknap Press/Harvard University Press)

Hector Tobar, Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle that Set Them Free (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)



Saeed Jones, Prelude to Bruise (Coffee House Press)

Willie Perdomo, The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon (Penguin Books)

Claudia Rankine, Citizen: An American Lyric (Graywolf Press)

Christian Wiman, Once in the West (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

Jake Adam York, Abide (Southern Illinois University Press)



Alexandra Schwartz



Charles Finch

B. K. Fischer

Benjamin Moser

Lisa Russ Spaar



Toni Morrison



Phil Klay, Redeployment (Penguin Press)


Winners of the National Book Critics Circle awards will be announced on Thursday, March 12, 2015 at 6:00 p.m. at the New School’s Tishman Auditorium. A finalists’ reading will be held on March 11, also at 6:00 p.m. at the same location. Both events are free and open to the public.



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, 40 years ago. Comprising more than 700 working critics and book-review editors throughout the country, the NBCC 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 critics and editors from some of the country’s leading print and online publications, as well as critics whose works appear in these publications. For more information about the history and activities of the National Book Critics Circle and to learn how to become a supporter, visit http://www.bookcritics.org You c.an join the NBCC on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.


For more information, contact Sarah Russo at [email protected] or (917) 627-5993.

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