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Book Chat > National Book Critics Circle Finalists/Winners (2013/14)

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message 1: by Lily (last edited Mar 17, 2014 08:19AM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 2464 comments This is an annotated copy of the announcement of the National Book Critics Circle Finalists; the original can be found here:
http://bookcritics.org/blog/archive/a...

Winners are marked. (3/17/14)

Jan-13-2014

NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE ANNOUNCES ITS FINALISTS FOR PUBLISHING YEAR 2013

First-ever John Leonard Prize goes to Anthony Marra for “A Constellation of Vital Phenomena.”

New York, NY, January 13 –– The National Book Critics Circle today announced its 30 finalists in six categories –– autobiography, biography, criticism, fiction, nonfiction, and poetry –for the best books of 2013. 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 13 at the New School, in a ceremony that is free and open to the public. (Bold added. Video may be seen at link below.)

Anthony Marra’s novel A Constellation of Vital Phenomena (Hogarth) is the debut recipient of the John Leonard Prize, established this year 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 nearly 600 members nationwide, whereas the traditional awards are nominated and chosen by the elected 24-member board of directors.

The recipient of the 2013 Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing is Katherine A. Powers, contributor to many national book review sections, including the Boston Globe, the Washington Post and the Barnes and Noble Review. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and is the editor of Suitable Accommodations: An Autobiographical Story of Family Life: The Letters of J. F. Powers, 1942-1963. For the second time in its 27-year history, the Balakian Citation carries with it a $1,000 cash prize, generously endowed by NBCC board member Gregg Barrios.

The recipient of the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award is Rolando Hinojosa-Smith. At 84, Hinojosa-Smith is the dean of Chicano authors, best known for his ambitious Klail City Death Trip cycle of novels. He is also an accomplished translator and essayist, as well as a mentor and inspiration to several generations of writers. A recipient of the 1976 Premio Casa de las Americas, Hinojosa-Smith is professor of literature at the University of Texas, Austin, where he has taught for nearly three decades.

NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE FINALISTS, PUBLISHING YEAR 2013:

NONA BALAKIAN CITATION FOR EXCELLENCE IN REVIEWING

Katherine A. Powers

Finalists:

Ruth Franklin

James Marcus

Roxana Robinson

Alexandra Schwartz


IVAN SANDROF LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

Rolando Hinojosa-Smith



JOHN LEONARD PRIZE

Anthony Marra, A CONSTELLATION OF VITAL PHENOMENA (Hogarth)



AUTOBIOGRAPHY

Sonali Deraniyagala, WAVE (Knopf)

Aleksandar Hemon, THE BOOK OF MY LIVES (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

Rebecca Solnit, THE FARAWAY NEARBY (Viking)

Jesmyn Ward, MEN WE REAPED (Bloomsbury)

Amy Wilentz, FAREWELL, FRED VOODOO: A LETTER FROM HAITI (Simon & Schuster) -- Winner


BIOGRAPHY

Scott Anderson, LAWRENCE IN ARABIA: WAR, DECEIT, IMPERIAL FOLLY AND THE MAKING OF THE MODERN MIDDLE EAST (Doubleday)

Leo Damrosch, JONATHAN SWIFT: HIS LIFE AND HIS WORLD (Yale University Press) -- Winner

John Eliot Gardiner, BACH: MUSIC IN THE CASTLE OF HEAVEN (Knopf)

Linda Leavell, HOLDING ON UPSIDE DOWN: THE LIFE AND WORK OF MARIANNE MOORE (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

Mark Thompson, BIRTH CERTIFICATE: THE STORY OF DANILO KIS (Cornell University Press)


CRITICISM

Hilton Als, WHITE GIRLS (McSweeney’s)

Mary Beard, CONFRONTING THE CLASSICS: TRADITIONS, ADVENTURES AND INNOVATIONS (Liveright)

Jonathan Franzen, THE KRAUS PROJECT: Essays by Karl Kraus, translated and annotated by Jonathan Franzen with Paul Reiter and Daniel Kehlmann (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

Janet Malcolm, FORTY-ONE FALSE STARTS: ESSAYS ON ARTISTS AND WRITERS (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

Franco Moretti, DISTANT READING (Verso) -- Winner


FICTION

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, AMERICANAH (Knopf) -- Winner

Alice McDermott, SOMEONE (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

Javier Marías, THE INFATUATIONS (Knopf)

Ruth Ozeki, A TALE FOR THE TIME BEING (Viking)

Donna Tartt, THE GOLDFINCH (Little, Brown)


NONFICTION

Kevin Cullen and Shelley Murphy, WHITEY BULGER: AMERICA’S MOST WANTED GANGSTER AND THE MANHUNT THAT BROUGHT HIM TO JUSTICE (Norton)

Sheri Fink, FIVE DAYS AT MEMORIAL: LIFE AND DEATH IN A STORM-RAVAGED HOSPITAL (Crown) -- Winner

David Finkel, THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE (Sarah Crichton Books/Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

George Packer, THE UNWINDING: AN INNER HISTORY OF THE NEW AMERICA (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

Lawrence Wright, GOING CLEAR: SCIENTOLOGY, HOLLYWOOD AND THE PRISON OF BELIEF (Knopf)


POETRY

Frank Bidart, METAPHYSICAL DOG (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) -- Winner

Lucie Brock-Broido, STAY, ILLUSION (Knopf)

Denise Duhamel, BLOWOUT (University of Pittsburgh Press)

Bob Hicok, ELEGY OWED (Copper Canyon)

Carmen Gimenez Smith, MILK AND FILTH (University of Arizona Press)

(Please add a note if you see any errors. I have not double checked authors names and it is possible an incorrect name is paired with a book. Also, there is some uncertainty about the Goodreads links for the Nona Balakian Citation.)

At Msg 21, thanks to Linda for calling our attention to the fact winners had been announced. They now have been marked above.

http://bookcritics.org/awards/


Evelina | AvalinahsBooks (avalinahsbooks) | 116 comments I'm not used to these things, first time I'm seeing it like this, so can you please make something clear to me? As I understand it, there's a winner of the Leonard Prize, that's clear. But what about the other categories where there are five? Are those nominees yet to be picked? If so, when and how will I able to see the results (online)?

Thanks.


message 3: by Lily (last edited Feb 14, 2014 07:34AM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 2464 comments Evelina wrote: "...Are those nominees yet to be picked? If so, when and how will I able to see the results (online)?..."

Evelina -- We can learn together, or you may go explore the National Book Critics Circle pages (see opening link). Each prize seems to have its own rules -- and Internet presence. I myself haven't figured out for this one yet whether a single "winner" will be selected for each of the finalist groups. At the moment, I presume so, and that winners in each category will be announced on March 13 or via a prior news release. I am sure one can figure it out from prior years, or perhaps someone else here more familiar with this award than I can comment for us.

Part of my aim with these various award lists is to make us more aware of their role in the book creation and marketing world and to suggest how they might be helpful to us as readers. I know from experience winning an award is no guarantee that a book will be of interest to me. But, as I become increasingly aware of some of the major awards offered throughout the world and the processes by which books are selected, their value, both to the author and to the reading public, seems to emerge -- at least to some extent.

Some awards, like the Man Booker, have both long lists and short lists, as well as winners. The long lists are often six to twelve (even fifteen or more?) selections from among perhaps 100's of nominees. The short lists, often called finalists, are some subset of the long lists, and may be announced several months later and much closer to the announcement of "winners." (In some senses of the word, books that place on either long lists or on short (finalist) lists often can be considered "winners.")

(For more on the New School in NYC, where the awards will be presented in March: http://www.newschool.edu/, including http://www.newschool.edu/public-engag...)

There are comparable literary awards in countries around the world, which perhaps you can help us learn. (I had an email discussion last night with my f2f book group that included six major ones in France alone.)


Evelina | AvalinahsBooks (avalinahsbooks) | 116 comments Oh, I see, I thought this was a single event or something. Yeah, of course, being a winner doesn't mean it's the best and the best for you necessarily, but at least there would be less books! cause I have a reading list that's much too long (haha).. and then I also want to see if the Goldfinch wins.

I guess if it's announced by March 13th then it would be clearer by that day.


Evelina | AvalinahsBooks (avalinahsbooks) | 116 comments And thanks for explaining a little about short lists and long lists, I wasn't sure what they were all about.


message 6: by Deborah (new)

Deborah | 983 comments I took an almost personal pleasure in Marra's award.


message 7: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 2464 comments Evelina wrote: ".. and then I also want to see if the Goldfinch wins...."

Evelina -- if you haven't seen them already, these may interest you about The Goldfinch:

http://www.theparisreview.org/blog/20...

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/15/boo...


message 8: by Lily (last edited Feb 14, 2014 12:43PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 2464 comments Deborah wrote: "I took an almost personal pleasure in Marra's award."

Deborah -- Did you champion his A Constellation of Vital Phenomena: A Novel as our read here? (I didn't go back and check the comments.)

I must say that is a book that I didn't particularly "like" at the time I was reading it, but it and its characters are staying with me much more than many books I have read recently. It is bleak enough that I have not recommended it to others, but with this selection, I may start calling it to the attention of my book-reading f2f friends. (Most of them seem to prefer upbeat writings -- but while CoVP seemed deeply gloomy at time of reading, with distance I can sort of accept the sadness, regret, devastation of human lives,..., but still recognize its life affirming messages among the chaos of decades of civil unrest.)


message 9: by Deborah (new)

Deborah | 983 comments I didn't champion it. In fact I think may have rolled my eyes and heaved a put upon sigh when it won. But I fell in love with it. I loved the writing. I loved the odd humor. That said it was a weighted book and not an easy read. I found myself taking breaks from it. It was filled with pain.


message 10: by Angie (new)

Angie | 32 comments Although I'm not a really active participant here, I think I was the one who first suggested CoVP to the group. Since I read it last June I've recommended it to almost anyone who'll listen. I went so far as to contact The Morning News to recommend its inclusion in the 2014 Tournament of Books. I was so sad when it was not included in the list of books for the tournament last month.

Deborah - I'm so glad you fell in love as well :)


message 11: by Lily (last edited Feb 21, 2014 05:54AM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 2464 comments https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NdQpn...

Here is an interview with Anthony Marra by Ron Charles at Washington Post/Book World. It is quite long, I haven't listened to all of it.

I returned to it and finished. Enjoyable.


message 12: by Terry (new)

Terry Pearce Oh, I've read three of five in the fiction category and love on of the other two authors (Adichie), so I guess i want to read the fifth: Someone, do I? Let's have a look...

Oh, that looks very good. Reminds me of Stoner, the best book I read this year so far.


message 13: by Daniel (new)

Daniel I'd say well done on us as a group for reading three of the five finalists (or at least that will be the case shortly).


message 14: by Terry (new)

Terry Pearce Maybe we should make it an even five in the coming months...


message 15: by Lily (last edited Feb 21, 2014 07:30AM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 2464 comments Terry wrote: "Oh, that looks very good. Reminds me of Stoner, the best book I read this year so far...."

McDermott is unlikely to be like Stoner (John Edward Williams). It fascinates me how highly you rank Stoner, Terry. I thought it was very good -- and it was a surprise sleeper that I tripped over, probably because of a special sale, if I remember correctly.

My f2f group was okay with Charming Billy a number of years ago but deeply disappointed with After This, so have been leery of Someone , which does seem to be showing up on award candidate lists -- don't remember which other one this moment.


message 16: by Lily (last edited Feb 21, 2014 07:41AM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 2464 comments Daniel wrote: "I'd say well done on us as a group for reading three of the five finalists (or at least that will be the case shortly)."

Because of the John Leonard Award, there are actually six fiction candidates.

Did the group read The Infatuations ? I'll have to go look. (Yes, November, 2013. So we'll soon be four of six!)

Americanah was a very good read, a close call against Half of a Yellow Sun, which this group discussed a few months ago.


message 17: by Terry (new)

Terry Pearce I only looked superficially, but what made me compare was the many commentators on 'Someone' who mentioned it being a 'quiet' book, and ordinary story about an ordinary life. What is it that makes you say that they will be very different? (not doubting, just asking)

Stoner just reached in and grabbed my heart. About ten pages in, I was 'okay, the writing is high quality, but not much is going on'; by about fifty, I was 'this is absolutely stellar, I'm gripped'. I've rarely rooted for a protagonist quite so much.

It has been on display stands all over London in the run-up to Xmas because of some reviews it recently got from some big names saying it was something like 'the best book nobody's ever read'. Not far off.


message 18: by Lily (last edited Mar 16, 2014 07:20PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 2464 comments Terry wrote: "What is it that makes you say that they will be very different? (not doubting, just asking) ..."

Not easy for me to put words to what makes one author different than another, but Edwards had a style that somehow belonged to the Midwest that he wrote about, McDermott has one that belongs to the Irish Roman Catholic suburban East that she seems to know so well. I say that as one who grew up in the Midwest and yet was lived the second half of life so far in New England and in NYC suburbs. Stoner was very unlike most reads I recall -- no easy comparison comes now, some of Willa Cather may be the closest. (Maybe the austere protagonist of The Samurai by Shūsaku Endō?) McDermott for me belongs to that large menagerie of women who write well about family dynamics and relationships, from Anne Tyler to Elizabeth Strout to Anne Enright to Amy Tan to...

(A book that you might just happen to like, Terry. Very different from Stoner, still...
Giants in the Earth: A Saga of the Prairie by Ole E. Rolvaag.)


message 19: by LindaJ^ (new)

LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 2298 comments Lily wrote: "Terry wrote: "Oh, that looks very good. Reminds me of Stoner, the best book I read this year so far...."

McDermott is unlikely to be like Stoner ([author:John Edward Wi..."


Someone was longlisted for the 2013 National Book Award in fiction. I read it and thought it was quite good - the story of the life a quotidian woman.


message 20: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 2464 comments Linda wrote: "Someone was longlisted for the 2013 National Book Award in fiction. I read it and thought it was quite good - the story of the life a quotidian woman. "

Thanks, Linda!


message 21: by LindaJ^ (new)

LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 2298 comments On Thursday, the winners for fiction and non-fiction were announced --
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie for fiction, and
Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital by Sheri Fink for non-fiction


message 22: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 2464 comments "The other winners were Amy Wilentz for 'Farewell, Fred Voodoo' (Simon & Schuster), in autobiography; Leo Damrosch for 'Jonathan Swift' (Yale University Press), in biography; Franco Moretti for 'Distant Reading' (Verso), in criticism; and Frank Bidart for 'Metaphysical Dog' (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) in poetry."

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/15/bus...

See msg1 above for Goodreads links.


message 23: by Lily (last edited Mar 17, 2014 08:53AM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 2464 comments http://bookcritics.org/awards/ or

http://bookcritics.org/blog/archive/v...

If you have an hour to "waste," a video of the presentation of the awards is available at the address above. (Consider using full screen on your monitor.)

I ended my evening last night, after earlier watching Neil deGrasse Tyson host a dramatic visualization of evolution on Cosmos, by listening/watching the presentations. The audio was often a bit faint, even inaudible, from my PC's speakers, but for me it was worth it to see lean Anthony Marra towering over the woman who was master of ceremonies at that moment, to listen to the man speaking of the impact of Rolando Hinojosa-Smith on his life, to hear Katherine Powers expound a bit on what she considers to be important attributes of worthy reviews, to view Amy Wilentz including the entire nation of Haiti among her thank yous, and finally to experience the exuberance of Adiche as she accepted the award for fiction -- with all the others I've skipped over here. How different than watching a TV spectacular presenting film awards!


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