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National Book Critics Circle announces award finalists

A sampling of finalists for the 2014 National

A sampling of finalists for the 2014 National Book Critics Circle awards. Photo Credit: Tom Beer/Newsday

The National Book Critics Circle Tuesday announced 30 finalists for its annual literary awards, given to the best autobiography, biography, criticism, fiction, general nonfiction and poetry of 2014.

Among those named are Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Marilynne Robinson, New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast, French economist Thomas Piketty and former Newsday editor Miriam Pawel, who supervised the team that covered the crash of TWA Flight 800 off Long Island in 1996.

For the first time in the group's 41-year history, a single book has been nominated in two categories: Claudia Rankine's "Citizen" (Graywolf Press) is a finalist in poetry and criticism. "Rankine’s appearance on two separate categories is a testament to her book’s complexity, narrative reach and artistry,” says Rigoberto Gonzalez, chair of the poetry committee.

The group also announced the recipients of three special awards. Toni Morrison, 83, will receive the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award for her work as a novelist, editor, teacher and cultural critic. Phil Klay’s story collection “Redeployment” (Penguin Press) is to get the John Leonard Prize for a best first book in any genre. Klay won the National Book Award last November. The Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing will go to Alexandra Schwartz, an assistant editor at The New Yorker.

Winners of the National Book Critics Circle awards will be announced on March 12 at the New School’s Tishman Auditorium in New York. The awards are nominated and chosen by the group's board of 24 critics and book review editors.

Here is a list of all finalists:

AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Blake Bailey, “The Splendid Things We Planned” (W.W. Norton & Co.)

Roz Chast, “Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?” (Bloomsbury)

Lacy M. Johnson, “The Other Side” (Tin House)

Gary Shteyngart, “Little Failure” (Random House)

Meline Toumani, “There Was and There Was Not” (Metropolitan Books)

BIOGRAPHY
Ezra Greenspan, “William Wells Brown: An African American Life” (W.W. Norton & Co.)

S.C. Gwynne, “Rebel Yell: The Violence, Passion and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson” (Scribner)

John Lahr, “Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh” (W.W. Norton & Co.)

Ian S. MacNiven, “Literchoor Is My Beat: A Life of James Laughlin, Publisher of New Directions” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

Miriam Pawel, “The Crusades of Cesar Chavez” (Bloomsbury)

CRITICISM
Eula Biss, “On Immunity: An Inoculation” (Graywolf Press)

Vikram Chandra, “Geek Sublime: The Beauty of Code, the Code of Beauty” (Graywolf Press)

Claudia Rankine, “Citizen: An American Lyric” (Graywolf Press)

Lynne Tillman, “What Would Lynne Tillman Do?” (Red Lemonade)

Ellen Willis, “The Essential Ellen Willis,” edited by Nona Willis Aronowitz (University of Minnesota Press)

FICTION
Rabih Alameddine, “An Unnecessary Woman” (Grove Press)

Marlon James, “A Brief History of Seven Killings” (Riverhead Books)

Lily King, “Euphoria” (Atlantic Monthly Press)

Chang-rae Lee, “On Such a Full Sea” (Riverhead Books)

Marilynne Robinson, “Lila” (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

GENERAL NONFICTION
David Brion Davis, “The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Emancipation” (Alfred A. Knopf)

Peter Finn and Petra Couvee, “The Zhivago Affair: The Kremlin, the CIA, and the Battle over a Forbidden Book” (Pantheon)

Elizabeth Kolbert, “The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History” (Henry Holt & Co.)

Thomas Piketty, “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” translated from the French by Arthur Goldhammer (Belknap Press/Harvard University Press)

Hector Tobar, “Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle that Set Them Free” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

POETRY
Saeed Jones, “Prelude to Bruise” (Coffee House Press)

Willie Perdomo, “The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon” (Penguin Books)

Claudia Rankine, “Citizen: An American Lyric” (Graywolf Press)

Christian Wiman, “Once in the West” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

Jake Adam York, “Abide” (Southern Illinois University Press)

NONA BALAKIAN CITATION FOR EXCELLENCE IN REVIEWING
Alexandra Schwartz

Finalists:
Charles Finch

Barbara K. Fischer

Benjamin Moser

Lisa Russ Spaar

IVAN SANDROF LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Toni Morrison

JOHN LEONARD PRIZE
Phil Klay, “Redeployment”(Penguin Press)

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