Mary Karr’s Lit and Edmund White’s City Boy were among the finalists named on Saturday for the National Book Critics Circle‘s 2009 awards. The two will compete against Diana Athill’s Somewhere Towards the End, Debra Gwartney’s Live Through This: A Mother’s Memoir of Runaway Daughters and Reclaimed Love, and Kati Marton’s Enemies of the People: My Family’s Journey to America in the autobiography category.
In fiction, the finalists are Bonnie Jo Campbell’s National Book Award finalist American Salvage, Marlon James’ The Book of Night Women, Michelle Huneven’s Blame, Hilary Mantel’s Man Booker Prize winner Wolf Hall, and Jayne Ann Phillips’ Lark and Termite.
The biography category is dominated by books about writers: The finalists are Blake Bailey’s Cheever: A Life, 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 finalists are Wendy Doniger’s The Hindus: An Alternative History, Greg Grandin’s Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford’s Forgotten Jungle City, Richard Holmes’ The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science, Tracy Kidder’s Strength in What Remains, and William T. Vollman’s 1,300-plus-page Imperial.
In criticism, the short list includes Eula Biss’ Notes From No Man’s Land; Stephen Burt’s Close Calls With Nonsense: Reading New Poetry; Morris Dickstein’s Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression; former EW staffer David Hajdu’s Heroes and Villains: Essays on Music, Movies, Comics, and Culture; and Greg Milner’s Perfecting Sound Forever: An Aural History of Recorded Music.
And file under better late than never: 93-year-old poet Eleanor Ross Taylor’s Captive Voices is among the poetry finalists, joined by Rae Armantrout’s NBA finalist Versed, Louise Glück’s A Village Life, D.A. Powell’s Chronic, and Rachel Zucker’s Museum of Accidents.
The uber-prolific Joyce Carol Oates will receive a lifetime achievement award at the NBCC’s annual awards ceremony, which will take place in March. In addition, veteran New Yorker writer Joan Accocela will pick up the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing.