The National Book Critics Circle has announced finalists for six prizes given to the best books of 2014. They include fiction by Marilynne Robinson, a graphic memoir about caring for her aging parents by cartoonist Roz Chast and one book, “Citizen” by Claudia Rankine, that’s a finalist in two categories, poetry and criticism. The NBCC board picked the finalists last weekend in New York City; they were announced yesterday.
Author Toni Morrison, 83, received the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award. Phil Klay’s short story collection “Redeployment” (Penguin Press), based on the author’s experiences serving as a U.S. Marine in Iraq, is the recipient of the John Leonard Prize, established in 2014 to recognize outstanding first books in any genre.
Here are the finalists (full disclosure that this writer is a board member and chair of the biography committee):
“An Unnecessary Woman” by Rabih Alameddine (Grove Press); “A Brief History of Seven Killings” by Marlon James (Riverhead); “Euphoria” by Lily King (Atlantic Monthly Press); “On Such a Full Sea” by Chang-rae Lee (Riverhead); “Lila” by Marilynne Robinson (Farrar, Straus and Giroux).
“The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Emancipation” by David Brion Davis (Knopf); “The Zhivago Affair: The Kremlin, the CIA, and the Battle over a Forbidden Book” by Peter Finn and Petra Couvee (Pantheon);”The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History” by Elizabeth Kolbert (Henry Holt); “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” by Thomas Piketty, translated from the French by Arthur Goldhammer (Belknap Press/Harvard University Press); “Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle that Set Them Free” by Hector Tobar (Farrar, Straus & Giroux).
“The Splendid Things We Planned: A Family Portrait” by Blake Bailey (W.W. Norton); “Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?” by Roz Chast (Bloomsbury); “The Other Side” by Lacy M. Johnson (Tin House); “Little Failure” by Gary Shteyngart (Random House); “There Was and There Was Not” by Meline Toumani (Metropolitan Books).
“William Wells Brown: An African American Life” by Ezra Greenspan (W.W. Norton); “Rebel Yell: The Violence, Passion and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson” by S.C. Gwynne (Scribner); “Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh” by John Lahr (W.W. Norton); “Literchoor Is My Beat”: A Life of James Laughlin, Publisher of New Directions” by Ian S. MacNiven (Farrar, Straus & Giroux); “The Crusades of Cesar Chavez: A Biography” by Miriam Pawel (Bloomsbury).
” On Immunity: An Innoculation” by Eula Biss (Graywolf Press); “Geek Sublime: The Beauty of Code, the Code of Beauty” by Vikram Chandra (Graywolf Press); “Citizen: An American Lyric” by Claudia Rankine (Graywolf Press)’ “What Would Lynne Tillman Do?” by Lynne Tillman (Red Lemonade); “The Essential Ellen Willis,” by Ellen Willis, edited by Nona Willis Aronowitz (University of Minnesota Press).
“Prelude to Bruise” by Saeed Jones (Coffee House Press); “The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon” by Willie Perdomo (Penguin Books); “Citizen: An American Lyric” by Claudia Rankine (Graywolf Press); “Once in the West” by Christian Wiman (Farrar, Straus & Giroux); “Abide” by Jake Adam York (Southern Illinois University Press).
The Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing award went to Alexandra Schwartz, an assistant editor at the New Yorker.