NEW YORK – Fiction by Percival Everett and Ling Ma, nonfiction by Annie Proulx and biographies of George Balanchine and J. Edgar Hoover are among the finalists for National Book Critics Circle awards. Former U.S. poet laureate Joy Harjo has won an honorary award for lifetime achievement.
Last fall's National Book Award winner for fiction, Tess Gunty's “The Rabbit Hutch,” is a nominee for best first book. Other finalists announced Tuesday night include Ed Yong's “An Immense World,” recently awarded a Carnegie Medal from the American Library Association, and the poetry collection “Milkweed Smithereens,” by Bernadette Mayer, who died in November at age 77.
Winners will be announced March 23 during a ceremony in Manhattan. Besides Harjo's award, the NBCC also will present honorary prizes to former critics circle president Barbara Hoffert, San Francisco's City Lights Bookstore and the critic Jennifer Wilson, who writes for The Nation and The New York Times.
In fiction, nominees include Everett's novel “Dr. No,” Ma's story collection “Bliss Montage,” Namwali Serpell's “The Furrows,” and two works in translation: Jon Fosse's “A New Name: Septology VI-VII" and Mieko Kawakami's “All the Lovers in the Night.”
Finalists in autobiography are Jazmina Barrera's “Linea Nigra: An Essay on Pregnancy and Earthquakes,” Hua Hsu's “Stay True: A Memoir,” Dorthe Nors' “A Line in the World: A Year on the North Sea Coast,” Darryl Pinckney's “Come Back in September: A Literary Education on West Sixty-seventh Street, Manhattan” and Ingrid Rojas Contreras' “The Man Who Could Move Clouds.”
In biography, the nominees are Beverly Gage's Hoover biography “G-Man,” Jennifer Homans' “Mr. B: George Balanchine’s 20th Century,” Kerri K. Greenidge's “The Grimkes: The Legacy of Slavery in an American Family,” Clare Mac Cumhaill's and Rachael Wiseman's “Metaphysical Animals: How Four Women Brought Philosophy Back to Life” and Aaron Sachs' “Up from the Depths: Herman Melville, Louis Mumford, and Rediscovery in Dark Times.”
Pulitzer Prize winner Margo Jefferson's “Constructing a Nervous System” is a finalist for criticism, along with Rachel Aviv's “Strangers to Ourselves,” Timothy Bewes' “Free Indirect: The Novel in a Postfictional Age,” Peter Brooks' “Seduced by Story” and Alia Trabucco Zerán's “When Women Kill: Four Crimes Retold.”
In nonfiction, nominees besides Yong include Proulx's environmental study “Fen, Bog, & Swamp,” Isaac Butler's “The Method: How the Twentieth Century Learned to Act,” Kelly Lytle Hernandez's “Bad Mexicans: Race, Empire, and Revolution in the Borderlands” and Joseph Osmundson's essay collection “Virology.”
Meyer was a finalist in the poetry category, along with Mosab Abu Toha's “Things You May Find Hidden in My Ear,” Cynthia Cruz's “Hotel Oblivion,” David Hernandez's “Hello I Must Be Going” and Paul Hlava Ceballos' “banana.”
For the first time, the NBCC will award a prize for translation. The nominees are Boris Dralyuk’s translation from the Russian of Andrey Kurkov's “Grey Bees,” Jennifer Croft’s translation from the Polish of Nobel laureate Olga Tokarczuk's “The Books of Jacob,” Fady Joudah’s translation from the Arabic of Maya Abu Al-Hayyat's “You Can Be the Last Leaf,” Mara Faye Lethem’s translation from the Catalan of Irene Solà's “When I Sing, Mountains Dance,” Christina MacSweeney’s translation from the Spanish of Barrera's “Linea Nigra” and Mark Polizzotti’s translation from the French of Scholastique Mukasonga's “Kibogo.”
Gunty is a finalist for best debut work, along with Jessamine Chan's “The School for Good Mothers,” Jonathan Escoffery's “If I Survive You,” Zain Khalid's “Brother Alive,” Maud Newton's “Ancestor Trouble,” Morgan Talty's “Night of the Living Rez” and Vauhini Vara's “The Immortal King Rao.”
The NBCC was founded in 1974, and includes more than 600 members from around the country.