March, 2018

Video: NBCC Awards Ceremony for Award Year 2017

by David Varno | Mar-24-2018

March 15, 2018, The New School, New York, NY

Welcome: Luis Jaramillo, Interim Director, The New School Writing Program 

Opening Remarks: Kate Tuttle, President, National Book Critics Circle

John Leonard Prize: Carmen Maria Machado, Her Body and Other Parties (Graywolf) 

Introduced by Daniel Akst

Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing: Charles Finch 

Introduced by Katherine A. Powers

Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award: John McPhee 

Introduced by Michael Schaub and Stacey Vanek Smith


Layli Long Soldier, Whereas (Graywolf)

Introduced by Tess Taylor


Carina Chocano, You Play the Girl: On Playboy Bunnies, Stepford Wives, Train Wrecks, & Other Mixed Messages (Mariner) Edwidge Danticat, The Art of Death: Writing the Final Story (Graywolf)

Introduced by Carlin Romano


Xiaolu Guo, Nine Continents: A Memoir In and Out of China (Grove)

Introduced by Laurie Hertzel


Caroline Fraser, Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder (Metropolitan Books) 

Introduced by Elizabeth Taylor


Frances FitzGerald, The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America (Simon & Schuster)

Introduced by Mary Ann Gwinn

Joan Silber, Improvement (Counterpoint)

Introduced by Tom Beer

NBCC Awards: John McPhee Accepts the Sandrof Award for Lifetime Achievement

by John McPhee | Mar-23-2018

John McPhee is a journalist, essayist, author, and longtime journalism professor at Princeton University. He is the author of more than 30 books, beginning with “A Sense of Where You Are,” published in 1965; his most recent book is “Draft No. 4: On the Writing Process.” His lifetime contribution to letters and book culture include his pioneering work in the fields of journalism and creative nonfiction; his explorations of widely varying topics, including science, sports, and the environment; and his mentorship of countless young writers and journalists. He has previously been honored with the Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Wallace Stegner Award, and the Pulitzer Prize. His acceptance speech for the Sandrof Award is below.

Photo by John Midgley

Thank you, Stacey.  Thank you FSG for publishing the books.  Thank you New Yorker magazine for priming the pump.  Thank you National Book Critics Circle for this once-in-a-lifetime moment.

Lifetime.  A lifetime of writing.  How did that happen?  Well, for starters, my father's field was sports medicine and he was the doctor of Princeton football teams.  When I was eight years old, a football jersey --black with orange tiger-stripes on the sleeves, the number 33 front and back-- was made for me by the same company that made the big guys' uniforms.  On Saturdays, I ran into the stadium with the team, stood on the sidelines during the game, and after they scored went behind the goal post and caught the extra point.

One November Saturday, a cold, wind-driven rain was drenching the stadium, and I was miserable.  The rain stung my eyes, and I was shivering. Looking up at the press box, where I knew there were space heaters, I saw those people sitting dry under a roof, and decided then and there to become a writer.

"Creative nonfiction" is a term that is currently having its day. When I was in college, anyone who put those two words together would have been looked upon as a comedian or a fool.  Today, Creative Nonfiction is the name of the college course I teach.  Same college.  Required to give the course a title, I named it for a quarterly edited and published at the University of Pittsburgh.  The title asks an obvious question:  What is creative about nonfiction?  It takes a whole semester to try to answer that, but here are a few points:  The creativity lies in what you choose to write about, how you go about doing it, the arrangement through which you present things, the skill and the touch with which you describe people and succeed in developing them as characters, the rhythms of your prose, the integrity of the composition, the anatomy of the piece (does it get up and walk around on its own?), the extent to which you see and tell the story that exists in your material, and so forth.  Creative nonfiction is not making something up but making the most of what you have.

Or, as my daughter Jenny said last week, "It's not fake news."

Finally, I would like to pay homage to the New Yorker's William Shawn, whose particular interest in the potentialities of factual writing was a very lucky thing for me.

Mr. Shawn understood the disjunct kinship of creative work -- every kind of creative work -- and time.  The most concise summation of it I've ever encountered was his response to a question I asked him just before we closed my first New Yorker profile and he sent it off to press.  It was about Bill Bradley in college basketball, and after all those one-on-one sessions with Mr. Shawn discussing back-door plays and the role of the left-handed comma in the architectonics of the game -- while The New Yorker magazine hurtled toward its deadlines -- I finally said in wonderment, "How can you afford to use so much time and go into so many things in such detail with just one writer when this whole enterprise is yours to keep together?"

He said, "It takes as long as it takes."

As a writing teacher, I have repeated that statement to two generations of students.  If they are writers, they will never forget it.

It can take a lifetime.   Thank you so much.

NBCC Awards: Charles Finch, Balakian Award for Excellence in Reviewing

by Charles Finch | Mar-22-2018

The recipient of the 2017 Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing, given to an NBCC member for exceptional critical work, was Charles Finch. The Balakian Citation carries with it a $1,000 cash prize, endowed by longtime NBCC board member Gregg Barrios. His acceptance speech is below.

Photo by John Midgley

I am so deeply honored to receive this citation, particularly as I learn more and more about Nona Balakian. I would like to just stand here and recite a list of people I want to thank, but as a friend sternly and sagely told me, this isn’t an Oscars speech – talk about reviewing books. So that’s what I’m going to try to do.

Anyone with their eyes open knows that we’re in a bad and dangerous position right now. The President is insane in just charismatic enough a way that the rich have been able to carry on consolidating their wealth and destroying the natural world. A black man who doesn’t complete high school has a 60% chance of going to prison. ICE is dividing families with the kind of brute joy that a whole century just taught us not to ignore. We have sunk to such a depth that when a single person dies in a school shooting it’s rarely notable enough that we learn their name. A rational country would be creating a structure to help the tens of millions of people who will lose their jobs to automation in the next few decades – not dismantling what exists of that structure. I find myself in regular agreement with Bill Kristol.

This is not the most lighthearted way to begin a celebration of book reviewing. But in the face of our present reality, all adults have to ask whether what they’re doing has any consequence. I was not one of those people on social media exhorting everyone to just keep on making art the day after Donald Trump was elected. Art may help, it may console; but history is also littered with people that art did nothing to save.

And yet I do want to speak up for the art of the book review, and not just because it’s the practice that brings me here tonight, to my equally immense gratitude and bewilderment.

In her essay "Against Interpretation," Susan Sontag famously called for us to replace literary analysis with an “erotics of art.” That now seems to me to be one of the most lovely and also one of the most misguided ideas in modern thought. Feelings, sense-responses: these have been in charge for a long while now. We are governed by an erotics of morality. People feel, statistically in error, that a wall or a gun will make them safe. People feel that the poor are covetous. People feel that women who want jurisdiction over their own bodies stand in defiance of some natural law.

Yet of course feelings are also the living blood of great art. I am tired of the word empathy being used in connection with fiction – empathy is the table stakes of good fiction; you shouldn’t be allowed to play without it – but obviously all of our work rests on empathy, the ability to recognize that another person is just as real as you are. And beyond empathy, there is the whole range of other human feeling, which suffused the work of our nominees tonight – rage, sorrow, mischief, the light gliding happiness of the ephemeral, the harder, lasting happiness of love. Great writing comes from those feelings, and also elicits them.

So what am I arguing? It is this: that the singular beauty of a book review, what it does that nothing else can, is to force us into that impossible thing, feeling lucidly. When I finish a novel and then go look to see what Zoe Heller or Alexandra Schwartz or Laura Miller or one of a dozen other great critics has said about it, what I experience is the pleasure of a till-then unarticulated recognition. A good book review asks us to answer for why we loved a thing, and either loves it along with us or demands that we defend our love, confront our sightlines of the world. It holds us accountable.

I think that matters. At this moment, we are painstakingly unknotting our society’s old false certainties about race, gender, and sexuality, and replacing them, not unopposed, with, in the words of one of my heroes, Marina Warner, validities, not verities.  It is here, in stealing a march on the truths of the future, that criticism is uniquely valuable; uniquely political, even, perhaps.

I often think about a line by Kay Ryan, one of my favorite writers, who said, "We’re building the ship as we sail it." The miracle in that is how closely and economically she describes two things at once: the project of having a self and the project of having a world. It reminds me in the first place of what I was like at fifteen, lonely and fallen out with myself, reading Middlemarch or P.G. Wodehouse to make the days go away faster, certainly unable to imagine that some day I would be standing here, so surprised and yet so pleased from the bottom of my heart to have been given this award.

But in optimistic moments I think that it’s also a line, we’re building the ship as we sail it, that may ultimately account for our bizarre, fearful, yet sometimes exhilarating moment of history. If we survive it without Mike Pence and his mother enacting whatever weird version of Handmaid’s Tale fan fiction they write, the attention that we, as critics, pay the world, the practice of scrutiny, will have mattered. I hope it turns out that way.

Charles Finch is the author of the Charles Lenox mysteries, including The Inheritance and A Beautiful Blue Death, which was nominated for an Agatha Award and was named one of Library Journal’s Best Books of 2007. He is a graduate of Yale and Oxford, and lives in Chicago. His first contemporary novel, The Last Enchantments, is also available from St. Martin's Press. His reviews and essays have appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and elsewhere.

NBCC Awards: Carmen Maria Machado, John Leonard Award Winner

by Carmen Maria Machado | Mar-21-2018

Carmen Maria Machado’s fiction collection Her Body and Other Parties (Graywolf) was the recipient of the John Leonard Prize, recognizing an outstanding first book in any genre. Her acceptance speech is below.

Photo by John Midgley 

Most of the people in this room—maybe even all of us—understand that right now we live in a terrifying and precarious world. But only some of us know that we have always lived in a terrifying and precarious world. Only some of us know that we live in a world that does not treat our humanity as a given, and only some of us know that it’s been that way forever.

I know that Her Body and Other Parties is terrifyingly real right now. I wish it wasn’t. I would give this book up in one second if I thought I could make it less relevant, if I could undo my own need to have written it. But the fact is, it’s always been this real. The fact is, stories exist whether or not we decide to commit them to the page. I consider myself lucky to have coaxed a few of them out of the ether, if only to say: me, too. 

We like to think of history as progressive, but as any historian will tell you, history is cyclical. Things do not just amorphously “get better”—they get better, they retreat back, they get better for some people and not others, they retreat to a past decade or past century, they advance forwards or backwards suddenly through court decisions, they advance forwards or backwards slowly through cultural drift. Events trigger large-scale demonstrations, like we saw yesterday from our youngest and bravest generation; politicians fight back.

It goes without saying that, right now, we are experiencing a cultural and political contraction on a massive scale. It has been this way before; it will be this way again. All we can do is fight it; to fight it, we need to put words to it. This is what artists do. This is what critics do. So thank you also to the members of the National Book Critics Circle, who contribute such a valuable cultural service, not just to the literary world but to the project of the humanities—of humanity. 

I am deeply grateful to the family of John Leonard, whose support for this prize demonstrates his commitment to emerging writers, and to the other nominees, whose debut books asked difficult, important questions that continue to provoke and haunt me.

I am deeply grateful to my editor Ethan Nosowsky and the rest of the Graywolf team, who have been enthusiastic about and supportive of this book since the very beginning. I am also deeply grateful to my agent, Kent Wolf, who didn’t ask me if I had a novel, who believed in my weird short stories and had a vision for my career long before I did.

And mostly importantly, I am grateful to my incredible, gorgeous, brilliant wife, Val Howlett, who makes everything I write better and sharper and clearer and smarter and teaches me about my own history and approaches the world with compassion and tenderness when I approach it with profound crankiness. I love you, baby. You’re my favorite.

And thank you to everyone who has read and loved Her Body and Other Parties. She’s yours, now. 

Carmen Maria Machado holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and has been awarded fellowships and residencies from the Michener-Copernicus Foundation, the Elizabeth George Foundation, the CINTAS Foundation, the Speculative Literature Foundation, the Clarion Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers’ Workshop, the University of Iowa, Yaddo, Hedgebrook, and the Millay Colony for the Arts. She is the Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania and lives in Philadelphia with her wife.

Critical Notes: The National Book Critics Circle Awards 2018 Edition

by Jane Ciabattari | Mar-20-2018

This year's National Book Critics Circle awards Thursday night came after a five-hour board meeting at which the winners were chosen (see board, above, in a photo by John Midgley) and was completed with a sold-out reception celebrating all the finalists and the literary world that keeps us passionate about books. Keep an eye on Critical Mass for video of the awards ceremony, remarks by award winners Carmen Maria Machado, Charles Finch and John McPhee, as well as the citations for the winning books, written by board members.

Award winners here.

Video of the finalists' reading here.

Interviews with the finalists by MFA students at The New School here.

Former NBCC board member Carolyn Kellogg reported on the all-women NBCC award winners for the Los Angeles Times

Calvin Reid listed all the awards winners and detailed the stunning books in Publishers Weekly.

NBCC board member Laurie Hertzel listed the NBCC award winners and gave a shout out to Layli Long Soldier in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

In the Chicago Tribune, the Associate Press's Hillel Italie noted the long-running strengths and qualities of Joan Silber's work, and pointed out that Balakian winner Charles Finch had recently praised Silber as well.

The Millions published a list of all the NBCC award winners.

Lit Hub rounded up excerpts of reviews for each of the winners via Bookmarks.

Shelf Awareness posted the list of award winners.

In Bustle, Kristin Wilson was happy to anounce that most of the NBCC awards went to women and noted that the awards for 2016 showed similar results.

Thom Geier gave a shout out in The Wrap to the authors who won the NBCC awards this year, stating that NBCC is an organization honoring great books in the US. He noted that while women took home the awards in all of the book categories, men were not completely absent from the ceremony. 

Erin Somers listed the winners for Publishers Marketplace.

In her article for the Tampa Bay Times, former board member Colette Bancroft described each award-winning author and pointed out that the NBCC awards are the only major awards given out by critics.

Video: Finalists Reading for Award Year 2017

by David Varno | Mar-19-2018

On Wednesday, March 14, 2018, the night before the awards ceremony, many of the finalists read from their work at the New School  Here is the complete video. See below for order of appearances.

Welcome: Luis Jaramillo, Interim Director, The New School Writing Program

Opening Remarks: Kate Tuttle,  President, National Book Critics Circle


Nuar Alsadir, Fourth Person Singular (Liverpool University Press/Oxford)

James Longenbach, Earthling (Norton)

Layli Long Soldier, Whereas (Graywolf)

Frank Ormsby, The Darkness of Snow (Wake Forest University Press)


Carina Chocano, You Play the Girl: On Playboy Bunnies, Stepford Wives, Train Wrecks, & Other Mixed Messages (Mariner)

Edwidge Danticat, The Art of Death: Writing the Final Story (Graywolf)

Camille T. Dungy, Guidebook to Relative Strangers: Journeys into Race, Motherhood and History (Norton)

Valeria Luiselli, Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions (Coffee House)

Kevin Young, Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts and Fake News (Graywolf)


Thi Bui, The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir (Abrams)


Caroline Fraser, Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder (Metropolitan Books)

Edmund Gordon, The Invention of Angela Carter: A Biography (Oxford)

Howard Markel, The Kelloggs: The Battling Brothers of Battle Creek (Pantheon)

William Taubman, Gorbachev: His Life and Times (Norton)

Kenneth Whyte, Hoover: An Extraordinary Life in Extraordinary Times (Knopf)


Joan Silber, Improvement (Counterpoint)


Jack E. Davis, The Gulf: The Making of An American Sea (Liveright)

Frances FitzGerald, The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America (Simon & Schuster)

Masha Gessen, The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia (Riverhead)

Interview with 2018 NBCC Ivan Sandrof Award Winner John McPhee

by Jeffrey Preis | Mar-19-2018

Thanks to the cooperation of the Creative Writing at The New School, as well as the tireless efforts of their students and faculty, we are able to provide interviews with each of the NBCC Awards Winners and Finalists for the publishing year 2017.

John McPhee has lived in Princeton, New Jersey for most of his life. He grew up around the campus as a young boy — his father was the athletic department’s physician — and he spent his undergraduate career there. He currently teaches a class on creative nonfiction — a genre some say he helped pave, and has taught it since 1974. McPhee has been a staff writer at The New Yorker for more than 50 years and his book, Annals of the Former World, won a Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction in 1999.

His last book , Draft No. 4,, was published in late 2017 and it’s dedicated to the writing process. The book touches on the emotions, hardships and frustrations that all young writers face at one point — I can confirm this to be true. He’s covered a range of subjects from an entire book on oranges to a geological history of North America and an essay on The Army Corps of Engineers attempt to control the Mississippi River. His tenured career has been rooted in his quest for knowledge and he is more than deserving of the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award.

Jeffrey Preis (JP)What differences do you notice now versus when you started teaching?

John McPhee (JM): Well, of course, when I started teaching long ago, nobody was using computers then. There was no internet. I got into writing on a computer in 1984 which is fairly early and of course, that’s what we all do now. As far as the quality in their writing, there hasn’t been a trend up or down. They’re a selected group from an applicant pool of 50 or 60 or 70, and they’re good at what they do.

JP: In writing creative nonfiction, the writer’s skill in conveying a sense of place and local color can be key to his success. Do you use a formula or is it work specific?  

JM: Work specific. I don’t use anything that could be called a formula. I have, however, certain methods that repeat themselves. In certain basic things, for example, all research is done before the writing begins, in distinct phases. Of course, you could violate these principles. The lead is written before the actual structuring is done and then you figure out what the structure is and where you’re going to go and then you go back and write the rest of it. As far as atmosphere and local color, that’s a matter of soaking up everything you can, perhaps in what you have spent scribbling down [what] you think might be useful later on about the world you’re in out there.

JP: While we're on structure, I read your book, Draft No. Four and you have a section on writer's block that appears towards the end of the book. In the Essay version in The New Yorker, you open up with that section on writer's block.

JM: The first word is “block.”

JP: Exactly. My question is how do you make the transition from essay to book; how much do you have to alter the structure of it?

JM: The pattern is, and has been true for all of my books from the beginning — I’m a New Yorker writer and everything has begun as something for The New Yorker. So, the books come along about a year, at least, after something’s been in The New Yorker. And if it’s a collection of New Yorker pieces, like Draft No. 4, I did that over a period of a number of years. One of [the essays] was in a previous book, but when I put all [the essays] together as a book, I don’t necessarily have to follow the publication dates in The New Yorker. I’d have to look at the book to see what order, but I thought the essay on “Omission” just made a good place to end this book, so that’s why it’s [the last in] this book. 

JPYou don't necessarily paint the prettiest picture in terms of the writer's life, you refer to it as the “masochistic, self-inflicted paralysis of a writer’s normal routine.” After so many years, what have you learned most from this lifestyle?

JM: The negative side of it is important, I think. First of all, there’s a bit of hyperbole in that. And I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else but this. But every single day when you face the writing, it’s daunting and, basically what I’m talking about is the part that takes the longest, which is the first draft. After the second draft and the third draft, things are accomplished in a much shorter period of time, and you’ve got some confidence, you’ve got the thing there on paper and you’re working to improve it. So, we’re really talking about first drafts when you don’t really know where you’re going and hope that you can get to wherever it is. And as I said in the book, I think it is rational not to have confidence. Whatever you’ve written before isn’t going to write this one for you.

JP: What autobiographical influences do you nice in your writing? For example, did your love of kayaking and fishing lead you to the Atchafalaya River?

JM: No, what led me to the Atchafalaya was that a daughter of mine took a course with Robert Coles at Harvard. Robert Coles was teaching Walker Percy and Sarah got totally zonked with Walker Percy and she wanted to see Walker Percy country and [asked me if I’d] take her there on her spring vacation. I thought, ‘fine, we’ll go to New Orleans…but, what’s in it for Dad?’ [I got a hold of someone who] told me about Charlie Fryling at LSU…and the upside of that was that I got in Charlie Fryling’s canoe, Sarah too, and we [went] into the Atchafalaya. The story about [the Atchafalaya], I didn’t know about it at all…and [my friend] set me up with Charlie because she thought it was interesting. After hearing about it all day long, I thought so too. Of course, paddling around in the swamp was my cup of tea.

JP: Writing teachers often tell their students, especially when analyzing books that nothing is there accidentally, meaning, the author does not purposely include this or that detail, but upon completion, the writer has a sense of holistic completion that everything seems to go together. Do you notice this in your writing, especially given that a lot of your writing is heavily vetted by multiple departments at The New Yorker?

JM: I don’t know, listening to that quote and everything, it certainly sounds familiar. Of course, that’s what one does when one starts a project and collects the raw materials for the piece. And in the end, you want it to fit that description. I wouldn’t turn in a piece that I didn’t think did. [As far as] examples, well, really, just anything. That’s your goal. My goal is to do the best I can do, not the best that ever was done because I can’t do that. But I can do the best I can do and when I get there, I call it a day.

JP: What about those kismet or déjà vu moments when writing — do you ever experience that and, if so, how does it influence what you’re working on?

JM: That happens all the time and it doesn’t exclusively or even a majority of the time occur when you’re writing. It occurs for me when I’m out interviewing. Things occur that you just know are going to be significant in the book. At the end of my time in the Swiss Army, I was attached to some unit, and these guys [were] doing a war exercise where it was all concocted. Word comes in on the walkie-talkie that a petite atomic bomb had exploded. Well, I heard that, and I scribbled down exactly what the message was and I also thought, ‘right there, there’s my ending.’ Whatever my piece of writing is going to be, that’s how it’s going to end. This kind of thing happens, from time to time, when you’re interviewing when you hear something you just know just belongs in the subject you’re addressing. 

JP: Any regrets in terms of your writing?

JM: No, I think I’ve been lucky. I got into a form of writing after trying different things. This whole business is about real people and real places and that somehow fit my psychological nature better than poetry or novel-writing and you find that out by experimentation. I feel lucky that I got into that good and early and tried other things and that I felt comfortable in this niche. William Shawn (editor of The New Yorker from 1952-1987) talked about this all the time — young writers take more time, he said, to figure out what kind of writers they are. I started doing this when I was pretty young and I’m very glad I got into this niche because I feel very comfortable there and I feel like that’s where I belong. I was also very lucky to get connected to The New Yorker where Shawn seemed to be particularly interested in long-fact writing. That’s what I do, so that was pretty lucky.

JP: What advice would you give to your 30-year-old self?

JM: Well, number one, I say stop worrying! I’m very concerned about writers in their twenties and into their early thirties because I spent most of my time fretting and fussing over the fact that I didn’t have confidence. I don’t like to see other people go through that. There’s nothing less promising than an over confident, inexperienced writer. That makes no sense at all. You’ve got to have a certain doubt in order to do a good piece of writing. I’d do anything I could to keep the thirty-year-old from biting his nails. When I turned 30, I was working at Time Magazine and I thought that that was terminal, that I was never going to get along with anything else, that as a writer, [I wondered] what kind of future did I have? I remember going into some restaurant on my 30thbirthday in the Upper East Side and feeling particularly gloomy because I turned 30. When I tell these stories to young writers, about the fact that I started sending things to The New Yorker when I was 18-years-old and [didn’t sell] my first little thing to them until I was 31, and it was a little thing indeed. When I turned 33, I sold them something that changed my life and I’ve been there ever since. I don’t tell that story to depress anyone, I tell that story because this is how it worked for me. Writers grow slowly. And that’s why those years are taking the time.

John McPhee began contributing to The New Yorker in 1963. He has written more than a hundred pieces for the magazine, among them a Profile of Senator Bill Bradley during his days as a Princeton basketball star, an examination of modern-day cattle rustling, and several multipart series on a wide range of subjects, including Alaska; a voyage on a merchant ship down the west coast of South America as a Person in Addition to Crew; a stint with the Swiss Army; and the writing process. Between 1955 and 1956, he wrote for television, before joining Time, where he contributed pieces about show business until 1964. He has taught writing at Princeton University since 1975, and in 1982 was awarded Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson Award for service to the nation. He is the author of twenty-eight books, all of them based on his New Yorker writings. Among them are “Coming Into the Country,” which was nominated for a National Book Award; “Encounters with the Archdruid”; “The Control of Nature”; “Looking for a Ship”; “The Ransom of Russian Art”; and “Annals of the Former World,” which won the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction. His most recent books are “Uncommon Carriers,” and “Silk Parachute,” a collection of pieces ranging from North American lacrosse to the Cretaceous chalk of Europe.


Jeffrey Preis was born and raised in New Orleans, and moved to New York City in the Fall of 2016 to begin a Master’s in The New School’s Creative Writing program. He currently interns for The Points Guy and is working on his thesis on the Mississippi River and Louisiana.

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