Ann Patchett, Michael Chabon and Zadie Smith were among the nominees announced Tuesday for the National Book Critics Circle Awards.
Books by Louise Erdrich and former U.S. poet laureate Robert Pinsky also were among 30 finalists in six competitive categories selected by the 42-year-old organization.
The critics circle bypassed Colson Whitehead’s “The Underground Railroad,” winner of the National Book Award for fiction and one of last year’s most highly praised novels. It did include the winner of the National Book Award for nonfiction, Ibram X. Kendi’s “Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America.”
Margaret Atwood, the celebrated Canadian author known for such novels as “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Cat’s Eye,” will receive a lifetime achievement prize. Honorary awards also will be presented to Yaa Gyasi for best debut novel, “Homegoing,” and to Michelle Dean for excellence in reviewing.
Winners will be announced March 16.
Besides Kendi’s book, nonfiction nominees were Matthew Desmond’s “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City,” Jane Mayer’s “Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right,” Viet Thanh Nguyen’s “Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War” and John Edgar Wideman’s “Writing to Save a Life: The Louis Till File.”
In autobiography, the nominees were Marion Coutts’ “The Iceberg,” Jenny Diski’s “In Gratitude,” Hope Jahren’s “Lab Girl,” Hisham Matar’s “The Return: Fathers, Sons, and the Land in Between” and Kao Kalia Yang’s “The Song Poet: A Memoir of My Father.”
Biography finalists were Nigel Cliff’s “Moscow Nights: The Van Cliburn Story,” Ruth Franklin’s “Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life,” Joe Jackson’s “Black Elk: The Life of an American Visionary,” Michael Tisserand’s “Krazy: George Herriman, a Life in Black and White” and Frances Wilson’s “Guilty Thing: A Life of Thomas De Quincey.”
Pinsky’s “At the Foundling Hospital” was a poetry finalist, along with Ishion Hutchinson’s “House of Lords and Commons,” Tyehimba Jess’ “Olio,” Bernadette Mayer’s “Works and Days” and Monica Youn’s “Blackacre.”
In criticism, the finalists were Carol Anderson’s “White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide,” Mark Greif’s “Against Everything: Essays,” Alice Kaplan’s “Looking for The Stranger: Albert Camus and the Life of a Literary Classic,” Olivia Laing’s “The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone” and Peter Orner’s “Am I Alone Here?: Notes on Living to Read and Reading to Live.”
The National Book Critics Circle is made up of about 1,000 critics, book review editors and supporting members.