The finalists for the 2014 National Book Critics Circle Awards were announced yesterday. Poet Claudia Rankine, novelist Marilynne Robinson, and memoirist Lacy M. Johnson are among the thirty finalists for the awards, which are given in six categories: poetry, fiction, nonfiction, autobiography, biography, and criticism.
Rankine’s latest poetry collection, Citizen: An American Lyric, was nominated in both poetry and criticism, the first time in the awards’ forty-year history that a book has received nominations in two categories. “Citizen is a book of prose poetry whose inventive composition and topical content invite readers to consider different avenues toward the urgent conversation about race and politics in America,” said Rigoberto Gonzalez, chair of the NBCC poetry committee. “Rankine’s appearance on two separate categories is a testament to her book’s complexity, narrative reach and artistry.” Meanwhile, Phil Klay, whose debut short story collection, Redeployment, won the National Book Award in November, will receive the John Leonard first book prize. The award for lifetime achievement will be given to Toni Morrison.
The poetry finalists are Saeed Jones’s Prelude to Bruise (Coffee House Press), Willie Perdomo’s The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon (Penguin Books), Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric (Graywolf Press), Christian Wiman’s Once in the West (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), and the late Jake Adam York’s Abide (Southern Illinois University Press).
The fiction finalists, all novels, are Chang-rae Lee’s On Such a Full Sea (Riverhead), Marlon James’s A Brief History of Seven Killings (Riverhead), Rabih Alameddine’s An Unnecessary Woman (Grove Press), Marilynne Robinson’s Lila (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), and Lily King’s Euphoria (Atlantic Monthly Press).
The finalists in autobiography are Blake Bailey’s The Splendid Things We Planned: A Family Portrait (Norton), Roz Chast’s graphic memoir Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? (Bloomsbury), Lacy M. Johnson’s The Other Side (Tin House), Gary Shteyngart’s Little Failure (Random House), and Meline Toumani’s There Was and There Was Not (Metropolitan Books)
For a full list of finalists in each category, visit the National Book Critics Circle website.
The awards, founded in 1974 at the Algonquin Hotel and considered among the country's most prestigious literary honors, are the only prizes of their kind, selected by a jury of working critics and book-review editors. The 2014 winners will be presented at a ceremony on March 12 at the New School in New York City that is free and open to the public.
Photo: Claudia Rankine (credit Elizabeth Weinberg/New York Times)