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National Book Critics Circle announces 2018 award winners

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NEW YORK — The National Book Critics Circle announced the recipients of its book awards for publishing year 2018 at their annual meeting on March 14.

The winners include nonfiction recipient Steve Coll for “Directorate S: The C.I.A. and America’s Secret Wars in Afghanistan” (Penguin Press), Mary Ann Gwinn says, “Told with empathy for all sides, his account is sad, frightening, and moving in its depiction of the human toll of the conflict.” 
 
Ada Limón was awarded the poetry prize for “The Carrying” (Milkweed), in which Tess Taylor says “The Carrying opens a new chapter in an already beautiful and accomplished oeuvre.” The criticism award was presented to Zadie Smith for “Feel Free: Essays” (Penguin Press) where Charles Finch says “It feels blazing and whole, with the inward gravitational tug of a star. It survives – to quote Robert Lowell – the rainbow of its will.”
 
Nora Krug was given the prize in autobiography for “Belonging: A German Reckons With History and Home” (Scribner); where Kate Tuttle says “Krug creates a stunningly effective, often moving portrait of Krug’s memories and her exploration of the people who came before her.” The biography prize went to Christopher Bonanos for “Flash: The Making of Weegee The Famous” (Henry Holt & Company), where John McWhorter says “Bonanos has written a page-turner about, of all people, a grubby loner scrambling around Manhattan taking pictures of usually humble and often dirtyish goings-on, usually after dark, and with a focus bordering on the compulsive.”  

Anna Burns won for her novel “Milkman” (Graywolf) where Lori Feathers says “as original in its presentation as it is profound in its exposition of the familiar and not so familiar terrors that daily assail its young hero, a woman who faces persistent, insidious predation, both sexual and politically motivated.” Tommy Orange’s novel, “There There” (Knopf), was the recipient of the John Leonard Prize, recognizing an outstanding first book in any genre.

The recipient of the 2018 Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing, given to an NBCC member for exceptional critical work, was Maureen Corrigan. Maureen Corrigan, book critic for NPR's Fresh Air, is The Nicky and Jamie Grant Distinguished Professor of the Practice in Literary Criticism at Georgetown University. She is an associate editor of and contributor to “Mystery and Suspense Writers” (Scribner) and the winner of the 1999 Edgar Award for Criticism, presented by the Mystery Writers of America. Her book “So We Read On: How The Great Gatsby Came To Be and Why It Endures” was published by Little, Brown in September 2014. Corrigan's literary memoir “Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading!” was published in 2005. Corrigan is also a reviewer and columnist for The Washington Post's Book World and has served on the advisory panel of The American Heritage Dictionary.
 
The recipient of the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award was Arte Público Press. Arte Público Press is the oldest and largest publisher of Hispanic literature in the United States. Founded 40 years ago by Dr. Nicolás Kanellos, and currently based in Houston, Texas, Arte Público publishes dozens of books by Latino writers each year in both English and Spanish, including titles under its children’s literature imprint, Piñata Books. In 1992, Arte Público began its Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage Project, which seeks to recover and publish lost texts from Latino writers from colonial times to the mid-20th century. Arte Público was the original publisher of Sandra Cisneros’ legendary novel “The House on Mango Street.”  Other authors published by Arte Público have included Helena María Viramontes, John Rechy, Ana Castillo and Luis Valdez. Arte Público’s determination to build bridges, not walls, has immeasurably enriched American literature and culture.

(Note: Maine Edge writer and editor Allen Adams is a member in good standing of the National Book Critics Circle.)

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