Monday, January 31, 2011

Finalists for 2010 NBCC Award

Each year about a kajillion literary prizes are awarded -- the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Awards, the Orange Prize, the Story Prize, the Costa, the various PEN awards, etc. I think the three literary awards that each year most consistently align with my personal reading tastes are the Booker Prize, the Oregon Book Awards, and the National Book Critics Circle Award --  both the finalists and the winners in each of these tend to be books that resonate with me.

Recently the NBCC announced the finalists for 2010. I've read a couple of these already. An even greater number can be found in various precariously tippy stacks of to-be-read books throughout my house. A few more I've merely thought about reading, and some I've never heard of but now feel compelled to suss out.

Here is the list of finalists for the 2010 National Book Critics Circle Awards:


  • A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (Knopf)
  • Freedom by Jonathan Franzen (FSG)
  • To the End of the Land by David Grossman (Knopf)
  • Comedy in a Minor Key by Hans Keilson (FSG)
  • Skippy Dies by Paul Murray (Faber & Faber)

  • Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick (Random House)
  • Empire of the Summer Moon by S.C. Gwynne (Scribner)
  • Apollo’s Angels by Jennifer Homans (Random House)
  • The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukharjee (Scribner)
  • The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson (Random House)

  • Half A Life by Darin Strauss (McSweeneys)
  • Just Kids by Patti Smith (Ecco)
  • Crossing Mandelbaum Gate by Kai Bird (Scribner)
  • Autobiography of An Execution by David Dow (Hachette)
  • Hitch-22 by Christopher Hitchens (Twelve)
  • Hiroshima in the Morning by Rahna Reiko Rizzuto (Feminist Press)

  • How to Live: Or A Life of Montaigne in One Questions and Twenty Attempts at An Answer by Sarah Bakewell (Other Press)
  • The Secret Lives of Somerset Maugham: A Biography by Selina Hastings (Random House)
  • Charlie Chan: The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and His Rendezvous with American History by Yuente Huang (Norton)
  • The Killing of Crazy Horse by Thomas Powers (Knopf)
  • Simon Wiesenthal: The Life and Legends by Tom Segev (Doubleday)

  • The Posessed by Elif Batuman (FSG)
  • The Professor and Other Writings by Terry Castle (HarperCollins)
  • Lyric Poetry and Modern Politics: Russia, Poland, and the West by Clare Cavanagh (Yale)
  • The Cruel Radience by Susan Linfield (Univ. of Chicago)
  • Vanishing Point by Ander Monson (Graywolf)

  • One With Others by C.D. Wright (Copper Canyon)
  • Nox by Anne Carson (New Directions)
  • The Eternal City by Kathleen Graber (Princeton)
  • Lighthead by Terrance Hayes (Penguin)
  • The Best of It by Kay Ryan (Grove)
  • Sanderof Lifetime Achievement Award: Dalky Archive Press
  • Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing: Parul Sehgal
Here's some more information about the last two awards: The Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award, named after the first president of the NBCC,  is given annually to a person (a writer, publisher, critic, or editor, among others) who has made significant contributions to book culture. 

Nona Balakian, one of the founders of NBCC, was an editor at The New York Times Book Review, joining the staff in the 1940s after studying with literary critic Lionel Trilling at Columbia University. The annual citation for excellence in reviewing was named in her honor after her death in 1991.

Winners will be announced at the awards ceremony in New York City on March 10th. The National Book Critics Circle, founded in 1974 at the Algonquin, is a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization consisting of some 600 active book reviewers who are interested in honoring quality writing and communicating with one another about common concerns. It is managed by a 24-member all-volunteer board of directors.

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