National Book Critics Circle Awards, American Academy of Arts and Letters Literature Awards, and More

by Staff

Every day Poets & Writers Magazine scans the headlines—publishing reports, literary dispatches, academic announcements, and more—for all the news that creative writers need to know. Here are today’s stories.

The National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) announced the winners of its annual book awards yesterday evening: Know My Name by Chanel Miller, The Queen by Josh Levin, Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments by Saidiya Hartman, Everything Inside by Edwidge Danticat, Magical Negro by Morgan Parker, and Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe. The NBCC also awarded the John Leonard Prize, which honors “an outstanding first book of any genre,” to Sarah M. Broom’s memoir, The Yellow House, while Katy Waldman received the 2019 Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing, and Naomi Shihab Nye received the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award. 

The American Academy of Arts and Letters announced the winners of its 2020 literature awards, conferring a total of $350,000 to nineteen writers. Leslie Marmon Silko was named the recipient of the $100,000 Christopher Lightfoot Walker Award, honoring “a writer who has made a significant contribution to American literature,” while Isabella Hammad received the $5,000 Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction.

The National Endowment for the Arts has published a report on reading habits in the United States. Comparing data from 2017, 2012, and 2008, the report demonstrates how Americans are increasingly turning to books on digital and audio platforms. 

Lawrence Wright considers the eeriness of experiencing the coronavirus outbreak shortly after finishing his forthcoming pandemic novel, The End of October. (New York Times)

“Narrative is an attempt to stave off meaninglessness, and in the void of the pandemic, literature serves the purpose of trying, however desperately, to stop the bleeding.” Ed Simon considers what literature offers in the time of pandemics. (Millions

Claire Schwartz recommends a poem by June Jordan to inspire connection and hope in the face of coronavirus “social distancing.” (Paris Review Daily)

Liesl Schillinger rereads Albert Camus’s The Plague and finds lessons for how to live through and combat contagion. (Literary Hub)

Writer and editor Lydia Kiesling reflects on parenting in the age of climate crisis. (Cut)