Criticism & Features

NBCC Reads

National Book Critics Circle Announces Results of Latest NBCC Reads Survey

By Barbara Hoffert

National Book Critics Circle Announces Results of Latest NBCC Reads Survey

For release Wednesday, May 6, 2009

This Wednesday, May 6, check out the National Book Critics Circle’s blog, Critical Mass, (, and you’ll find the latest edition of NBCC Reads. Through NBCC Reads, the organization routinely taps the expertise of its members, as well as NBCC winners and nominees, with a specific book-related question.
This edition’s question? “Which work in translation, new or old, has had the biggest impact on your reading and writing?” It was a natural question, given that this year’s fiction award went to a work in translation: Roberto Bolaño’s 2666. The answers give us a snapshot of the cultural moment—and of the unambiguously brighter side of globalization. NBCC board member James Marcus has compiled and excerpted some 9000 words of commentary submitted by eighty-odd members, winners, and finalists. As he reports, many members have opted for canonical European novels—Doctor Faustus, The Stranger, and Remembrance of Things Past—as well as the slightly less canonical The Unbearable Lightness of Being and Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. But there have also been enthusiastic testimonies on behalf of Catullus, the Seamus Heaney translation of Beowulf, the Charles Singleton translation of the Inferno, Pascal’s Pensées, and Rabelais’ Gargantua and Pantagruel (which the youthful Norman Rush discovered in the library of his father, an “armchair libertine”). The King James Bible received multiple nods. And let us not forgot that bedside perennial, Søren Kierkegaard’s Concluding Unscientific Postscript, not to mention Kant’s Critique of Judgment. Yes, we’ve got an ecumenical crowd at the NBCC—and good reading recommendations that go beyond on borders.
The National Book Critics Circle, founded in 1974 at the Algonquin, is a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization consisting of some 600 active book reviewers who are interested in honoring quality writing and communicating with one another about common concerns. It is managed by a 24-member all-volunteer board of directors. For more information, please contact National Book Critics Circle president Jane Ciabattari or go to