January 17 – January 24, 2008 Edition

Book Critics Circle
Announces Finalists
For Annual Awards

NEW YORK, NY/1/12/08–In keeping with its goal to represent book culture throughout the nation, the National Book Critics Circle met in San Francisco today to choose finalists for its annual awards. One author received nominations in two categories. Joyce Carol Oates got the nod in fiction for The Gravedigger’s Daughter and in autobiography for The Journals. Other fiction finalists reflected the theme of national inclusiveness, with Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Riverhead), and Marianne Wiggins’s The Shadow Catcher (S., & S.), a meditation on the life of photographer Edward Curtis, famed for his images of Native Americans, that encompasses the final settling of the American West.

Poetry nods to the international scene include books by poet Tadeusz Rozewicz (New Poems, Archipelago), with other finalists including Mary Jo Bang (Elegy, Graywolf) and Michael O’Brien (Sleeping and Waking, Flood). In autobiography, a relatively new category for the NBCC, both Joshua Clark’s Heart Like Water: Surviving Katrina and Life in Its Disaster Zone (Free Press) and Edwidge Danticat’s Brother, I’m Dying (Knopf) remind us of trouble close to home.

Biography focuses especially on authors (Hermione Lee’s Edith Wharton, Knopf; Arnold Rampersad’s Ralph Ellison, Knopf; and Claire Tomalin’s Thomas Hardy, Penguin Press) Criticism ranged widely from Susan Faludi’s The Terror Dream, Metropolitan/Holt) to Ben Ratliff (Coltrane: The Story of a Sound, Farrar, Straus) to Julia Alvarez (Once Upon a Quniceanera, Viking).

The finalists were announced at a Saturday night event by a host of former NBCC winners and finalists, including Frederick Crews, Dave Eggers, Troy Jollimore, Jason Roberts, and Maxine Hong Kingston, at San Francisco’s famed City Lights Books (261 Columbus Avenue at Broadway). In addition, winners were announced for the NBCC’s Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing, which went to Sam Anderson, and this year’s Ivan Sandrof Life Achievement Award, who is Emilie Buchwald. Book award winners will be announced in New York City on Thursday, March 6, 2008, at the New School University’s Tishman Auditorium.


Joshua Clark, Heart Like Water: Surviving Katrina and Life in Its Disaster Zone, Free Press

Edwidge Danticat, Brother, I’m Dying, Knopf

Joyce Carol Oates, The Journals of Joyce Carol Oates, 1973–1982, Ecco

Sara Paretsky, Writing in an Age of Silence, Verso

Anna Politkovskaya: Russian Diary: A Journalist’s Final Account of Life, Corruption and Death in Putin’s Russia, Random House


Philip Gura, American Transcendentalism, Hill & Wang

Daniel Walker Howe, What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America 1815-1848, Oxford University Press

Harriet Washington, Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present, Doubleday

Tim Weiner, Legacy of Ashes: A History of the CIA, Doubleday

Alan Weisman, The World Without Us, Thomas Dunne BKs/St. Martin’s


Vikram Chandra, Sacred Games, HarperCollins

Junot Diaz, The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao, Riverhead

Hisham Matar, In The Country of Men. Dial Press

Joyce Carol Oates, The Gravediggers Daughter. Ecco

Marianne Wiggins, The Shadow Catcher, S. & S.


Tim Jeal, Stanley: The Impossible Life Of Africa’s Greatest Explorer, Yale University Press

Hermione Lee, Edith Wharton, Knopf

Arnold Rampersad, Ralph Ellison. Knopf

John Richardson, The Life Of Picasso: The Triumphant Years, 1917-1932, Knopf

Claire Tomalin, Thomas Hardy, Penguin Press


Mary Jo Bang, Elegy, Graywolf

Matthea Harvey, Modern Life, Graywolf

Michael O’Brien, Sleeping and Waking, Flood

Tom Pickard, The Ballad of Jamie Allan, Flood

Tadeusz Rozewicz, New Poems, Archipelago


Acocella, Joan. Twenty-Eight Artists and Two Saints, Pantheon

Alvarez, Julia. Once Upon a Quniceanera, Viking

Faludi, Susan. The Terror Dream, Metropolitan/Holt

Ratliff, Ben. Coltrane: The Story of a Sound, Farrar, Straus

Ross, Alex. The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century, Farrar, Straus

Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing

Sam Anderson — winner


Brooke Allen

Ron Charles

Walter Kirn

Adam Kirsch

Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award

Emilie Buchwald, writer, editor, and founding publisher of Milkweed Editions in Minneapolis