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National Book Critics Circle announces awards finalists

Margaret Atwood (The Handmaid’s Tale) will get a lifetime achievement award.

Margaret Atwood (The Handmaid’s Tale) will get a lifetime achievement award.

NEW YORK — The board of the National Book Critics Circle has chosen the 30 finalists for its awards for books published in 2016.

After a seven-hour meeting last Saturday, the board, of which I am a member, also announced the recipients of three more prizes.

The Irving Sandrof Award for lifetime achievement will go to acclaimed Canadian novelist and environmental and feminist activist Margaret Atwood, whose 16 novels include The Handmaid's Tale and the Oryx and Crake trilogy.

The Nona Balakian Award for achievement in criticism by an NBCC member goes to Michelle Dean, whose journalism and criticism appear in the Guardian, New Republic and other venues.

The John Leonard Prize for an outstanding first book is chosen from nominations by the NBCC's more than 700 members. It will be presented to Yaa Gyasi for her novel, Homegoing. Gyasi will speak at the University of South Florida Marshall Student Center in Tampa at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 9.

Finalists in the six book award categories include University of Florida professor Ibram X. Kendi, whose nonfiction book Stamped From the Beginning has already won the National Book Award.

The winners will be announced at a ceremony in New York City on March 16. The finalists are:

Autobiography: Marion Coutts, The Iceberg; Jenny Diski, In Gratitude; Hope Jahren, Lab Girl; Hisham Matar, The Return: Fathers, Sons, and the Land in Between; Kao Kalia Yang, The Song Poet: A Memoir of My Father

Biography: Nigel Cliff, Moscow Nights: The Van Cliburn Story; Ruth Franklin, Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life; Joe Jackson, Black Elk: The Life of an American Visionary; Michael Tisserand, Krazy: George Herriman, a Life in Black and White; Frances Wilson, Guilty Thing: A Life of Thomas De Quincey

Criticism: Carol Anderson, White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide; Mark Greif, Against Everything: Essays; Alice Kaplan, Looking for The Stranger: Albert Camus and the Life of a Literary Classic; Olivia Laing, The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone; Peter Orner, Am I Alone Here? Notes on Living to Read and Reading to Live

Fiction: Michael Chabon, Moonglow; Louise Erdrich, LaRose; Adam Haslett, Imagine Me Gone; Ann Patchett, Commonwealth; Zadie Smith, Swing Time

General nonfiction: Matthew Desmond, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City; Ibram X. Kendi, Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America; Jane Mayer, Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right; Viet Thanh Nguyen, Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War; John Edgar Wideman, Writing to Save a Life: The Louis Till File

Poetry: Ishion Hutchinson, House of Lords and Commons; Tyehimba Jess, Olio; Bernadette Mayer, Works and Days; Robert Pinsky, At the Foundling Hospital; Monica Youn, Blackacre.

Contact Colette Bancroft at or (727) 893-8435. Follow @colettemb.

National Book Critics Circle announces awards finalists 01/18/17 [Last modified: Thursday, January 19, 2017 5:14pm]
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