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National Book Critics Circle Awards: 2009 Nominees Announced

The National Book Critics Circle announced the nominees for their 2009 awards (update: I called them 2010 in the headline 'cause that's what year it is, but the NBCC calls them 2009 'cause that's when the books came out. Further update: apparently my right hand updated the headline while my left hand was apologizing for not updating it, and now it's 2009 all 'round) today in New York. Unlike the other two big US literary awards (the NBAs in fall and the Pulitzers in spring), the NBCCs are open in theory to books by authors from outside the US (as long as the books were published here), though in practice they are usually heavily American, with a few high-profile international authors. This year is no different, with Hilary Mantel, Richard Holmes, and Diana Athill the big names in from the UK.

Among the nominees, only four were also NBA finalists (Lark and Termite and American Salvage in fiction, Fordlandia in nonfiction, and Versed in poetry). If American Salvage, a collection of stories put out by Wayne State University Press, hadn't already gotten that NBA nod, it would be the surprise on the list, but now it's just confirmed as book that a lot more people are going to track down. It and Lark and Termite are joined on the fiction list by Wolf Hall, the Booker winner, and two well-reviewed but relatively unknown novels, The Book of Night Women (whose praises Maud has been singing) and Blame. In biography, two of the big lit bios of the year, Cheever and Flannery, go head to head (along with lives of two lesser-known international literati, Clarice Lispector and Ignazio Silone), while in criticism, Morris Dickstein's monumental Dancing in the Dark would have to be the heavy favorite (even though my sentimental favorite would be Stephen Burt, whom my mom taught in junior high, in the same class with Andrew Sean Greer). The best-known finalists are in nonfiction, four out of five of which were in our editors' top 100 for 2009, including William Vollmann's Imperial, whose 1300+ pages the NBCC judges will now (I hope) join me in finishing.

The winners will be announced on March 12:

Autobiography:

Biography:

Criticism:

Fiction:

Nonfiction:

Poetry:

Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing:

  • Joan Acocella (winner)
  • Nominees: Michael Antman, William Deresiewicz, Donna Seaman, Wendy Smith
--Tom

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Fixed. Thanks, Jason.

A link to the available paperback of AMERICAN SALVAGE would likely be more useful than the current one to the older hardcover.

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