Lorrie Moore and Naomi Klein among nominees for National Book Critics Circle awards

Lorrie Moore, Naomi Klein and the Egyptian writer Ahmed Naji are among the finalists for National Book Critics Circle awards

Hillel Italie
Thursday 25 January 2024 19:57 GMT

Lorrie Moore, Naomi Klein and the Egyptian writer Ahmed Naji are among the finalists for National Book Critics Circle awards. Honorary prizes are going to Judy Blume and to a longtime ally of Blume's in the fight against book bans, the American Library Association.

On Thursday, the critics circle announced nominees in seven competitive categories, ranging from fiction to debut book to best translation. Winners will be announced March 12.

Moore is a finalist for fiction, cited for “I Am Homeless if This Is Not My Home,” one of the few novels from an author best known for short stories. The other fiction nominees are Justin Torres' “Blackouts,” winner of the National Book Award last fall; Teju Cole's “Tremor,” Daniel Mason's “North Woods”; and Marie NDiaye's “Vengeance Is Mine,” translated from the French by Jordan Stump.

Klein's “Doppelganger: A Trip into the Mirror World,” her exploration of the Internet and the spread of misinformation, is a finalist for criticism. Also nominated were Grace E. Lavery's “Pleasure and Efficacy: Of Pen Names, Cover Versions, and Other Trans Techniques,” Tina Post's “Deadpan: The Aesthetics of Black Inexpression,” Nicholas Dames' “The Chapter: A Segmented History from Antiquity to the Twenty-First Century” and Myriam Gurba's "Creep: Accusations and Confessions," essays by the author who became a prominent critic of the lack of diversity in publishing.

Naji, convicted in Egypt in 2016 for “violating public modesty” in his novel “Using Life,” is a finalist in autobiography for “Rotten Evidence: Reading and Writing in an Egyptian Prison," translated by Katharine Halls. Naji's imprisonment led to international criticism and to his receiving the Freedom to Write Award from PEN America. His conviction was overturned the following year, and he left the country in 2019, eventually settling in the U.S. The other nominees are Safiya Sinclair's acclaimed memoir “How to Say Babylon,” Matthew Zapruder's “Story of a Poem,” Susan Kiyo Ito's “I Would Meet You Anywhere," and David Mas Masumoto's “Secret Harvests,” with artwork by Patricia Wakida.

In biography, the nominees were Jonathan Coe's Martin Luther King book, “King"; Gregg Hecimovich, The Life and Times of Hannah Crafts"; Yunte Huang's “Daughter of the Dragon: Anna May Wong’s Rendezvous with American History”; Rachel Shteir's “Betty Friedan,” and Jonny Steinberg's “Winnie and Nelson,” about the Mandelas.

The poetry finalists were Saskia Hamilton's “All Souls,” Kim Hyesoon's “Phantom Pain Wings,” Romeo Oriogun's “The Gathering of Bastards," Robyn Schiff's “Information Desk” and Charif Shanahan's “Trace Evidence.”

In translation, Kareem Abdulrahman was nominated for his translation from the Kurdish of Bachtyar Ali's “The Last Pomegranate Tree, and Natascha Bruce for her translation from the Chinese of Dorothy Tse's ”Owlish." The other finalists were Don Mee Choi's translation from the Korean of Kim Hyesoon's “Phantom Pain Wings,” Todd Fredson's translation from the French/Bété of Azo Vauguy's “Zakwato & Loglêdou’s Peril,” Maureen Freely’s translation from the Turkish of the late Tezer Özlü's “Cold Nights of Childhood" and Tiffany Tsao’s translation from the Indonesian Norman Erikson Pasaribu's ”Happy Stories, Mostly."

Nominees for the John Leonard Prize for Best First Book, named for the late critic and co-founder of the critics circle, are Ariana Benson's “Black Pastoral,” Emilie Boone's “A Nimble Arc,” Victor Heringer's “The Love of Singular Men,” Tahir Hamut Izgil's “Waiting to Be Arrested at Night," Donovan X. Ramsey's “When Crack Was King” and Martin J. Siegel's “Judgment and Mercy.”

Besides Blume and the library association, honorary awards will be presented to Washington Post critic Becca Rothfield for excellence in reviewing and to Marion Winik of NPR's “All Things Considered” for service to the literary community.

The book critics circle, founded in 1974, consists of hundreds of reviewers and editors from around the country.

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