By Mark Athitakis

From left: Jane Smiley, Bonnie Jo Campbell, Jane Ciabattari, Jennifer Egan, Darin Strauss, Isabel Wilkerson (Credit: Robb Cohen Photography and the Association of Writers & Writing Programs)

The National Book Critics Circle featured reading at the AWP conference in Chicago on March 2, hosted by Jane Ciabattari, drew an audience of 3,000—mostly first-timers at the gathering of nearly 11,000 writers, writing program directors, writing students, and book-fair presenters.

The lineup:

Bonnie Jo Campbell, who read her story ““The Solutions to Brian’s Problem.” from American Salvage, an 2009 NBCC award finalist in fiction;

Jennifer Egan, who read a section from A Visit from the Goon Squad, which won the 2010 NBCC award in fiction (and also the Pulitzer Prize);

Jane Smiley, who read a section from A Thousand Lives, which won the 1991 NBCC award in fiction;

Darin Strauss, who read the opening pages of Half a Life, which won the 2010 NBCC award in autobiography;

Isabel Wilkerson, who read Chicago sections from The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration, which won the 2010 NBCC award in nonfiction.

Photos from the entire conference are now available at the AWP website.