National Book Critics Circle chooses awards nominees; winners to be announced in March

Independent literary press Context Books and several university presses claim nominees. Grove Press founder Barney Rosset to receive Lifetime Achievement Award.
Two story collections (Amy Bloom's "A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You" and David Means's "Assorted Fire Events: Stories") and two works by British novelists (Jim Crace's "Being Dead" and Zadie Smith's "White Teeth") were among the nominees for the National Book Critics Circle's fiction award for the year 2000, to be announced this March at the organization's annual awards ceremony. The fiction list was rounded out by Michael Chabon's "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay," the story of two cousins who join forces to conquer the comics book industry in the 1940s.

Bloom's, Chabon's, and Smith's works were among five titles published by Random House that received nominations. The others included Victor Klemperer's "I Will Bear Witness: A Diary of the Nazi Years, 1942-1945" (in biography/autobiography) and Ted Conover's "Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing" (in nonfiction). Other big houses to garner several nominees were Knopf and Houghton Mifflin.

Knopf's nominees included Cynthia Ozick's "Quarrel & Quandary" and Claudia Roth Pierpont's "Passionate Minds: Women Rewriting the World" (in criticism), Fred Anderson's "Crucible of War" (in nonfiction), and Anne Carson's "Men in the Off Hours" (Carson was also nominated in 1998 for Autobiography of Red). Houghton Mifflin's nominees included Robin Marantz Henig's "The Monk in the Garden: The Lost and Found Genius of Gregor Mendel" and David Nasaw's "The Chief: The Life of William Randolph Hearst," both in biography/autobiography, and Michael Collier's "The Ledge," in poetry.

But big houses weren't the only publishers to win nominations. Means's "Assorted Fire Events" is published by Context Books, a small literary press (Mean's book also won the 2000 Pushcart Prize). Several university presses claimed nominees, including Charles Rosen's "Critical Entertainments: Music Old and New" (Harvard University Press) and Sherod Santos's "A Poetry of Two Minds" (University of Georgia Press), both in criticism; Judy Jordan's "Carolina Ghost Woods" (Louisiana State University Press) and Davis McCombs's "Ultima Thule" (Yale University Press), both in poetry; and Alice Kaplan's "The Collaborator: The Trial and Execution of Robert Brasillach" (University of Chicago Press), in nonfiction.

At the March awards ceremony, the National Book Critics Circle will also give the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award to Barney Rosset, a publishing giant, now 78, who edited Evergreen Press and founded Grove Press, which will shortly be celebrating its 50th anniversary. Rosset was responsible for bringing writes like Williams Burroughs, Henry Miller, Samuel Beckett, and D.H. Lawrence to the attention of American readers at a time when publishing such writers was controversial and even dangerous.

In addition, the National Book Critics Circle will award its Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing to Daniel Mendelsohn. This award, named after a longtime supporter of the organization, is given annually to a member who has demonstrated high critical standards in his or her work. Finalists included Sarah Coleman, Bill Marx, Katherine Powers, and David Rieff.

The awards ceremony will take place Monday, March 12, 2001 at Tischmann Auditorium, New York University Law School, 40 Washington Square South, New York City at 6:00 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. A reception follows directly at the law school's Greenberg Lounge, across from the auditorium, and costs $35. Nominees will read from their works at an event held Sunday, March 11, 2001, also at Tischmann Auditorium, at 7:00 p.m.

A complete list of nominees follows.

Fiction

Amy Bloom, A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You (Random)
Michael Chabon, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (Random)
Jim Crace, Being Dead (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux)
David Means, Assorted Fire Events: Stories (Context Books)
Zadie Smith, White Teeth (Random)

General Nonfiction

Fred Anderson, Crucible of War (Knopf)
Ted Conover, Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing (Random)
Frances Fitzgerald, Way Out There in the Blue: Reagan, Star Wars, and the End of the Cold War (Simon & Schuster)
Laurie Garrett, Betrayal of Trust: The Collapse of Global Public Health (Hyperion)
Alice Kaplan, The Collaborator: The Trial and Execution of Robert Brasillach (University of Chicago Press)

Biography/Autobiography

Herbert P. Bix, Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan (HarperCollins)
Robin Marantz Henig, The Monk in the Garden: The Lost and Found Genius of Gregor Mendel (Houghton Mifflin)
Victor Klemperer, I Will Bear Witness: A Diary of the Nazi Years, 1942-1945 (Random)
David Nasaw, The Chief: The Life of William Randolph Hearst (Houghton Mifflin)
Jean-Yves Tadié, Marcel Proust: A Life, (Viking)

Poetry

Anne Carson, Men in the Off Hours (Knopf)
Michael Collier, The Ledge (Houghton)
Judy Jordan, Carolina Ghost Woods (Louisiana State University Press)
Yusef Komunyakaa, Talking Dirty to the Gods (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux)
Davis McCombs, Ultima Thule (Yale University Press)

Criticism

Jacques Barzun, From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life, 1500 to Present (HarperCollins)
Cynthia Ozick, Quarrel & Quandary (Knopf)
Claudia Roth Pierpont, Passionate Minds: Women Rewriting the World (Knopf)
Charles Rosen, Critical Entertainments: Music Old and New (Harvard University Press)
Sherod Santos, A Poetry of Two Minds (University of Georgia Press)


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