National Book Critics Circle Finalists Announced

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National Book Critics Circle Finalists Announced

Bibliophiles now have a new reading list for 2016’s best literature: the National Book Critics Circle’s finalists. A few awards have already been announced: Margaret Atwood, an acclaimed author and environmental activist, won the organization’s Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award, while Yaa Gyasi’s novel Homegoing won the organization’s John Leonard prize for first books in any genre. Literary critic Michelle Dean won the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing, beating out other finalists including Julia M. Klein, Christian Lorentzen, Becca Rothfeld and Leo Robson.

Among the other nominees for awards, there is significant overlap between the finalists and Paste’s best books of 2016. For instance, Gyasi’s Homegoing ranked third on our list of the top novels of 2016, while Zadie Smith’s Swing Time and Michael Chabon’s Moonglow—both finalists for the NBCC’s best fiction award—ranked second and sixth, respectively. Among the non-fiction nominees that we quite liked are: Matthew Desmond’s Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, John Edgar Wideman’s Writing to Save a Life: The Louis Till File, Olivia Laing’s The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone and Jenny Diski’s In Gratitude. Find out where those ranked on our list of 2016’s best nonfiction books here.

Check out the full list of NBCC finalists below. The winners will be announced on Thursday, March 16.

Autobiography
Marion Coutts, The Iceberg (Black Cat Press)
Jenny Diski, In Gratitude (Bloomsbury)
Hope Jahren, Lab Girl (Alfred A. Knopf)
Hisham Matar, The Return: Fathers, Sons, and the Land in Between (Random House)
Kao Kalia Yang, The Song Poet: A Memoir of My Father (Metropolitan Books)

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

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

Fiction
Michael Chabon, Moonglow (Harper)
Louise Erdrich, LaRose (Harper)
Adam Haslett, Imagine Me Gone (Little, Brown)
Ann Patchett, Commonwealth (Harper)
Zadie Smith, Swing Time (Penguin Press)

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

Poetry
Ishion Hutchinson, House of Lords and Commons (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux)
Tyehimba Jess, Olio (Wave Books)
Bernadette Mayer, Works and Days (New Directions)
Robert Pinsky, At the Foundling Hospital (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Monica Youn, Blackacre (Graywolf Press)

Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing
Michelle Dean

Finalists
Julia M. Klein
Christian Lorentzen
Becca Rothfeld
Leo Robson

John Leonard Prize
Yaa Gyasi, Homegoing (Alfred A. Knopf)

Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award
Margaret Atwood