Chast, Piketty, Rankine among 2014 National Book Critics Circle nominees

BY  
Claudia Rankine

For the first time in National Book Critics Circle Award history, the same book was a finalist in two different categories. Claudia Rankine’s 2014 book “Citizen: An American Lyric” was nominated in poetry and criticism.

On Monday night 30 finalists were named for the National Book Critics Circle awards, one of the most prestigious literary prizes in America. Judged by a panel of critics and book review editors, the awards are handed out for six categories: autobiography, biography, criticism, fiction, nonfiction and poetry. Among the books singled out for consideration is a biography of Tennessee Williams by The New Yorker’s drama critic John Lahr and the novel “Lila” by Marilynne Robinson, which revisit the characters from her Pulitzer Prize winning novel “Gilead.”

Claudia Rankine’s “Citizen: An American Lyric” received nominations in two categories, poetry and criticism. It’s the first time in the history of the awards that a single book has been nominated twice. She spoke on the NewsHour in early December about using poetry to talk about racism and police violence.

The Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award will be awarded to novelist Toni Morrison, who “has been a powerful catalyst in reshaping literary culture over the past half century,” said the NBCC in a press release. Phil Klay’s “Redeployment,” which won the National Book Award in November, will also be honored with the John Leonard prize for the best debut book. Klay spoke to chief arts correspondent Jeffrey Brown later that month about his book of short stories on the struggles of coming home from war.

The NewsHour spoke to several other finalists, including Chang-Rae Lee, who was nominated for his novel “On Such a Full Sea,” French economist Thomas Piketty, author of “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” and Roz Chast,for her autobiography “Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?” We also spoke to author Hector Tobar, for his book “Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle That Set Them Free,” Saeed Jones, who was nominated for his collection of poetry “Preclude to Bruise” and Peter Finn and Petra Couvee, who wrote the nonfiction book “The Zhivago Affair: The Kremlin, the CIA, and the Battle over a Forbidden Book.”

The awards will be presented during a free, public ceremony on March 12 at the New School in New York.

Here’s the full list of the nominees:

Autobiography
Blake Bailey, “The Splendid Things We Planned: A Family Portrait” (W.W. Norton & Co.)
Roz Chast, “Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?” (Bloomsbury)
Lacy M. Johnson, “The Other Side” (Tin House)
Gary Shteyngart, “Little Failure” (Random House)
Meline Toumani, “There Was and There Was Not” (Metropolitan Books)

Biography
Ezra Greenspan, “William Wells Brown” (W.W. Norton & Co.)
S.C. Gwynne, “Rebel Yell: The Violence, Passion and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson” (Scribner)
John Lahr, “Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh” (W.W. Norton & Co.)
Ian S. MacNiven, “Literchoor Is My Beat”: A Life of James Laughlin, Publisher of New Directions (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
Miriam Pawel, “The Crusades of Cesar Chavez” (Bloomsbury)

Criticism
Eula Biss, “On Immunity: An Inoculation” (Graywolf Press)
Vikram Chandra, “Geek Sublime: The Beauty of Code, the Code of Beauty” (Graywolf Press)
Claudia Rankine, “Citizen: An American Lyric” (Graywolf Press)
Lynne Tillman, “What Would Lynne Tillman Do?” (Red Lemonade)
Ellen Willis, “The Essential Ellen Willis,” edited by Nona Willis Aronowitz (University of Minnesota Press)

Fiction
Rabih Alameddine, “An Unnecessary Woman” (Grove Press)
Marlon James, “A Brief History of Seven Killings” (Riverhead Books)
Lily King, “Euphoria” (Atlantic Monthly Press)
Chang­rae Lee, “On Such a Full Sea” (Riverhead Books)
Marilynne Robinson, “Lila” (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Nonfiction
David Brion Davis, “The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Emancipation” (Alfred A. Knopf)
Peter Finn and Petra Couvee, “The Zhivago Affair: The Kremlin, the CIA, and the Battle over a Forbidden Book” (Pantheon)
Elizabeth Kolbert, “The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History” (Henry Holt & Co.)
Thomas Piketty, “Capital in the Twenty-­First Century,” translated from the French by Arthur Goldhammer (Belknap Press/Harvard University Press)
Hector Tobar, “Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle That Set Them Free” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

Poetry
Saeed Jones, “Prelude to Bruise” (Coffee House Press)
Willie Perdomo, “The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon” (Penguin Books)
Claudia Rankine, “Citizen: An American Lyric” (Graywolf Press)
Christian Wiman, “Once in the West” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
Jake Adam York, “Abide” (Southern Illinois University Press)

Nona Balakian Citation For Excellence In Reviewing
Alexandra Schwartz
Finalists:
Charles Finch
Barbara K. Fischer
Benjamin Moser
Lisa Russ Spaar

Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award
Toni Morrison

John Leonard Prize
Phil Klay, Redeployment (Penguin Press)

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