Critical Mass, The Blog of the National Book Critics Circle

Announcing the Finalists for the John Leonard Award for Best First Book

by Gregg Barrios | Dec-10-2018

Big news: the NBCC membership has spoken, and the 2018 John Leonard Prize finalists have been chosen. 

Here’s this year’s superb list:

FRIDAY BLACK by Nana Kwami Adjei-Brenyah (Mariner)

A LUCKY MAN by Jamel Brinkley (Graywolf Press)

THE LINE BECOMES A RIVER: Dispatches from the Border by Francisco Cantú (Riverhead)

ASYMMETRY: A NOVEL by Lisa Halliday (Simon and Schuster) 

THE INCENDIARIES by R.O. Kwon (Riverhead)

THERE THERE by Tommy Orange (Knopf)

EDUCATED: A Memoir by Tara Westover (Random House)

Nominations for the Leonard Prize, for a first book in any genre, are open to any regular voting NBCC member; the finalists are those titles with the most nominations. A panel of member-volunteers will read the finalists and select the winner, to be announced in January. The John Leonard Prize will be presented at the NBCC Awards Ceremony at The New School in New York on March 14, 2019.

Critical Notes: Tom Barbash, Idra Novey, & Anna Burns

by Jane Ciabattari | Dec-10-2018

Deadlines: Today is the deadline for NBCC members to submit their self nominations for the Balakian Award for Excellence in Reviewing, which comes with $1,000.

Watch for the announcement of the John Leonard Award finalists later today.

Reviews and Interviews:

Rayyan Al Shawaf's review of Tom Barbash's The Dakota Winters appears in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Ellen Prentiss Campbell reviews The Dakota Winters for The Fiction Writers Review.

NBCC treasurer Marion Winik reviews Elizabeth Berg's Night of Miracles in USA Today, and The Museum of Modern Love, by Heather Rose, in Newsday. Recent episodes of The Weekly Reader podcast have covered The Dakota Winters, by Tom Barbash, Come With Me, by Helen Schulman, The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner, and Gone So Long by Andre Dubus III.

NBCC VP/Online Jane Ciabattari talks to NBCC fiction award winner Jonathan Lethem, author of The Feral Detective, about five books in which women write men and men write women, for her weekly Lit Hub column.

NBCC board member Laurie Hertzel reviews Will McGrath’s memoir, Everything Lost is Found Again, for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, where she is the senior editor for books.  And her weekly books column focuses on re-reading books.  

NBCC Emerging Critic Hope Wabuke reviews Michelle Obama's Becoming for The Root and  Oyinkan Braithwaite's My Sister, the Serial Killer, for the AV Club.

NBC Emerging Critic Chelsea Liu review writes about Ben Goldfarb's Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter, for Bay Nature.

For Oprah.com, Dawn Raffel reviews five books,"the most thoughtful books of the season": Wild Milk, by Sabrina Orah Mark; Crudo, by Olivia Laing; the Baltimore Book of the Dead, by Marion Winik;Godsend, by John Wray; Your Duck is My Duck, by Deborah Eisenberg.

Joan Frank reviews Simon Van Booy's The Sadness of Beautiful Things for the San Francisco Chronicle.

Joan Gelfand reviews Jacqueline Berger's  The Day You Miss Your Exit for Poetry Flash.

John Domini reviews Robert Saviano’s The Piranhas: The Boy Bosses of Naples, for Virginia Quarterly Review. 

Jay Jennings rounds up sports books for the holiday issue of the New York Times Book Review.

Jim Ruland reviews Idra Novey's Those Who Knew for the Los Angeles Times and Jim Harrison's final book of poems, Dead Man's Float, for his column The Floating Library in San Diego CityBeat.

Board member Mark Athitakis reviews Anna Burns' Booker-winning novel, Milkman, for USA Today. Robert Allen Papinchak also reviews Milkman, for the Washington Independent Review of Books.

K. L. Romo reviews John E. Stith’s suspense/thriller Pushback for The Big Thrill magazine, and The Blue by Nancy Bilyeau for BookTrib.com.

Alexander C. Kafka reviews Lance Esplund's The Art of Looking: How to Read Modern and Contemporary Art for The Washington Post.

Ann Fabian reviews Susan Orlean's The Library Book for The National Book Review. 

Tayla Burney writes a hybrid review/profile for DC Line about Camille Acker's new story collection, Training School for Negro Girls.

Dana Wilde reviews Alan Lightman’s Searching for Stars on an Island in Maine and profiles Belfast, Maine's poet laureate Tom Moore for The Working Waterfront newspaper. She also reviews Leonore Hildebrandt’s poetry collection Where You Happen To Be for The Cafe Review.

Meg Waite Clayton's monthly “Listen In” for the San Francisco Chronicle reviews the audiobooks of Michelle Obama’s Becoming, Caroline Hulse’s The Adults, and David Priess’s How To Get Rid of a President.

David Nilsen's interview with Sam Roxas-Chua about his book Echolalia in Script was published by Gulf Coast Journal.

Katharine Coldiron reviews Jabari Asim's We Can't Breathe for Brevity, Anne Boyer's A Handbook of Disappointed Fate for the Los Angeles Review, and Hollywood vs. the Author, ed. Stephen Jay Schwartz, for Book & Film Globe.
 

News:

NBCC member Cynthia Haven's Evolution of Desire: A Life of René Girard, is reviewed in the holiday issue of The New York Review of Books, by Robert Pogue Harrison.

Jack Sullivan received a Certificate of Merit Award from the Association of Recorded Sound Collections for his book, New Orleans Remix (University Press of Mississippi). The award ceremony is May 11th in Portland.

Connie Post's poem  “Dancing with the Father” was awarded the Pirene’s Fountain Editor’s “Liakoura Award”  for the best poem of the year from Pirene’s Fountain.

NBCC members note: Your reviews seed this roundup; please send items, including news about your new publications and recent honors, to NBCCCritics@gmail.com. With reviews, please include title of book and author, as well as name of publication. Make sure to send links that do not require a subscription or username and password.​ We love dedicated URLs. We do not love hyperlinks.

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From the Critical Mass blog

Announcing the Finalists for the John Leonard Award for Best First Book

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