National Book Critics Awards to be announced tonight; see the finalists

Tonight, the winners of this year’s National Book Critics Circle awards will be announced at the New School in New York City.

The finalists for the 2014 awards were announced in January. Their work spans autobiography, biography, critics, fiction, nonfiction and poetry, the awards are one of the most prestigious literary prizes in America.

As is tradition, the night before the awards, all finalists were invited to read from their work to an event that is free and open to the pubic, just like the awards themselves. Last night, the public heard from nearly all the writers, capped at four to five minutes a piece, including Gary Shteyngart, who read from “Little Failure,” which is up for autobiography, Lily King from her nominated novel “Euphoria” and Eula Bliss, who read from “On Immunity,” which is up for an NBCC award in criticism. Roz Chast and Thomas Piketty, shortlisted for the autobiography “Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?” and the nonfiction “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” respectively, were notably missing from the crowd.

Two special awards were also announced when the finalists were originally released. Tony Morrison has been awarded the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award. In a press release of the announcement, the NBCC said Morrison “has articulated a vision of the role of the writer that is both courageous and inspiring.” Phil Klay was also honored for his short story collection “Redeployment,” earning him the John Leonard Prize, which recognizes “outstanding first books in any genre.”

While we wait to find out who the NBCC board members have chosen to take home the awards, check out the full list of finalists below. The NewsHour spoke to many of the shortlisted authors and poets, so make sure to check out that those conversations as well.

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)

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)

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)

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

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)

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

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)