Two Florida authors among National Book Critics Circle awards finalists

Photo by Ed White University of Florida professor Jack E. Davis is the author of "The Gulf: The Making of An American Sea."
Photo by Ed White University of Florida professor Jack E. Davis is the author of "The Gulf: The Making of An American Sea."
Published Jan. 25, 2018

The National Book Critics Circle has announced its award finalists for books published in 2017, and two Florida writers are on the list.

Edwidge Danticat, the Haitian-born memoirist and novelist based in Miami, is a finalist in criticism for The Art of Death: Writing the Final Story. University of Florida history professor Jack E. Davis is a finalist in nonfiction for The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea, which has already received the Kirkus Prize.

The NBCC's Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award will be given to John McPhee (Annals of the Former World, Draft No. 4: On the Writing Process), an author, New Yorker staffer, teacher and towering figure in creative nonfiction.

The finalists are usually chosen by the NBCC's 24-member board, but awards rules allow for books to become finalists if a certain percentage of the general membership votes for them. This year, for only the third time in the history of the awards, one of the autobiography finalists was selected by the NBCC Members' Choice: Roxane Gay's Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body.

Winners of the National Book Critics Circle awards will be announced at a ceremony March 15 in New York. A finalists' reading will be held March 14. For information, go to

Nonfiction: Jack Davis, The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea; Frances FitzGerald, The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America; Masha Gessen, The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia; Kapka Kassabova, Border: A Journey to the Edge of Europe; Adam Rutherford, A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived: The Human Story Retold Through Our Genes.

Biography: Caroline Fraser, Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder; Edmund Gordon, The Invention of Angela Carter: A Biography; Howard Markel, The Kelloggs: The Battling Brothers of Battle Creek; William Taubman, Gorbachev: His Life and Times; Kenneth Whyte, Hoover: An Extraordinary Life in Extraordinary Times.

Autobiography: Thi Bui, The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir; Roxane Gay, Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body; Henry Marsh, Admissions: A Life in Brain Surgery; Ludmilla Petrushevskaya, The Girl From the Metropol Hotel: Growing Up in Communist Russia; Xiaolu Guo, Nine Continents: A Memoir In and Out of China.

Poetry: Nuar Alsadir, Fourth Person Singular; James Longenbach, Earthling; Layli Long Soldier, Whereas; Frank Ormsby, The Darkness of Snow; Ana Ristovic, Directions for Use.

Criticism: Carina Chocano, You Play the Girl: On Playboy Bunnies, Stepford Wives, Train Wrecks, & Other Mixed Messages; Edwidge Danticat, The Art of Death: Writing the Final Story; Camille Dungy, Guidebook to Relative Strangers: Journeys into Race, Motherhood and History; Valeria Luiselli, Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions; Kevin Young, Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts and Fake News.

Fiction: Mohsin Hamid, Exit West; Alice McDermott, The Ninth Hour; Arundhati Roy, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness; Joan Silber, Improvement; Jesmyn Ward, Sing, Unburied, Sing.

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Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing: Charles Finch.

Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award: John McPhee.

John Leonard First Book Prize: Carmen Maria Machado, Her Body and Other Parties.