Critical Notes

Roundup: NBCC Awards, Marisa Silver, Joyce Carol Oates, Ron Rash, & More

By Jane Ciabattari

First up, video of the National Book Critics Circle finalists reading, complete list of National Book Critics Circle award winners, video of Sandrof lifetime achievement winners Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar, who met in an elevator at the University of Indiana; video of the February 28 National Book Critics Circle Awards ceremony, and a sampling of reports:

Barbara Hoffert in Library Journal: “I want to highlight these awards, having just wrapped up six years as awards vice president for the NBCC. More to the point, the NBCC awards are the only ones given anywhere that are chosen exclusively by practicing critics. They’re well-considered, well-debated awards by folks who read widely and have no axe to grind.”

The Guardian called the NBCC Award “one of America's most prestigious literary prizes.”

The Bloomberg story mentioned the $1,000 award that came with the Balakian award for the first time this year: “The Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing went to William Deresiewicz, the author of 'A Jane Austen Education,' a contributing writer for the Nation and a contributing editor for the New Republic and the American Scholar. The award for the first time came with $1,000. Deresiewicz joked: 'Since I’m a freelancer, I’ll expect the check in three to six months.'”

The New York Times:re: Robert Caro's award in biography, “The first two books in Mr. Caro’s series also won the Book Critics Circle award, and the third volume was a finalist.”

The Washington Post published a roundup review of the poetry finalists.

More coverage from the Christian Science Monitor, Poets & Writers, Publishers Weekly, Salon, Barnes and Noble Review,NBCC member Philip Turner.

Newly minted NBCC nonfiction award winner Andrew Solomon reviews “Sticks and Stones,” Emily Bazelon's book on bullying, for the New  York Times Book Review:

NPR's Maureen Corrigan notes of Marisa Silver's new novel Mary Coin, based in part on the photographer Dorothea Lange and her portrait of the “Migrant Mother,” ” far from romanticizing the suffering of the Great Depression, Silver stares at it hard, square in the face, just as Lange must have done that March day in 1936 when, on assignment for the federal Farm Security Administration, she drove into the migrant workers camp, took six photos of Thompson and her children and then drove away.”

Mary Ann Gwinn, book editor of the Seattle Times, talks to Joyce Carol Oates, a former winner of the Sandrof award for lifetime achievement, about Woodrow Wilson, Princeton, her new novel The Accursed, and the literary nature of Twitter:

In the Cleveland Plain Dealer, NBCC board member Mark Athitakis notes of Sam Lipsyte's second collection, “The Fun Parts,” “For a book that uses hitting the skids for laughs, it's a remarkably compassionate book.”

Athitakis also talked to Katherine A. Powers about translating Nordic literature and why book translators shouldn't get short shrift:

Gina Webb reviews Ron Rash's “Nothing Gold Can Stay” for the Atlanta Constitution-Journal: “The stories seem simple on the face of it, but there are minefields galore here, embedded so deftly and deeply into the plot that each one registers only as a hushed, looming inevitability.”

David Duhr calls Elizabeth Black's “The Drowning House,” set in Galveston, “a book gasping for breath.”