National Book Critics Circle prize nominees chosen

NEW YORK – Man Booker Prize winner Hilary Mantel and National Book Award finalists Jayne Anne Phillips and Bonnie Jo Campbell were among the nominees announced Saturday night for the National Book Critics Circle prize.

Other finalists include memoir writer Mary Karr, former U.S. poet laureate Louise Glueck and former National Book Award winner William T. Vollmann, cited by critics for his 1,300-plus-page “Imperial.”

Joyce Carol Oates, one of the few writers as prolific as Vollmann, will receive a lifetime achievement prize, and a special award for criticism will be presented to New Yorker dance critic Joan Acocella.

Winners in six competitive categories will be announced March 11. There are no cash awards.

Mantel’s “Wolf Hall,” Phillips’ “Lark & Termite” and Campbell’s “American Salvage” were fiction nominees, along with Marlon James’ “Book of Night Women” and Michelle Huneven’s “Blame.”

Karr, known for such colorful best-sellers as “The Liars’ Club,” was nominated in autobiography for “Lit.” Edmund White, author of the classic novel “The Beautiful Room is Empty,” was an autobiography finalist for “City Boy.” Also nominated were Diana Athill’s “Somewhere Towards the End,” Debra Gwartney’s “Live Through This” and Kati Morton’s “Enemies of the People.”

Blake Bailey’s acclaimed biography of John Cheever, “Cheever,” was a biography finalist, along with Brad Gooch’s “Flannery: A Life of Flannery O’Connor,” Benjamin Moser’s “Why This World: A Biography of Clarice Lispector,” Stanislao G. Pugliese’s “Bitter Spring: A Life of Ignazio Silone” and Martha A. Sandweiss’ “Passing Strange: A Gilded Age Tale of Love and Deception Across the Color Line.”

Nonfiction nominees included Vollmann’s “Imperial,” a study of despair and poverty along the California-Mexico border; Wendy Doniger’s “The Hindus: An Alternative History”; National Book Award finalist “Fordlandia,” by Greg Grandin; Richard Holmes’ highly regarded “The Age of Wonder”; and “Strength in What Remains,” by Tracy Kidder, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1982 for “Soul of a New Machine.”

Criticism finalists were Eula Biss’ “Notes From No Man’s Land,” Stephen Burt’s “Close Calls with Nonsense,” Morris Dickstein’s “Dancing in the Dark,” David Hajdu’s “Heroes and Villains” and Greg Milner’s “Perfecting Sound Forever.”

Glueck’s “A Village Life” and National Book Award finalist Rae Armantrout (“Versed”) were poetry finalists, along with D.A. Powell’s “Chronic,” Rachel Zucker’s “Museum of Accidents” and Eleanor Ross Taylor’s “Captive Voices.”

Taylor, who turns 90 this year, is the widow of short story master and “A Summons to Memphis” novelist Peter Taylor.

The National Book Critics Circle, founded in 1974, is a nonprofit organization with around 600 members, “book reviewers who are interested in honoring quality writing and communicating with one another about common concerns.”

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