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Bolano, Kleinzahler among Critics Circle Award finalists

Natasha Wimmer's translation of the late Chilean novelist Roberto Bolano's 898 page unfinished masterpiece 2666 and Marilynne Robinson's Home, a parallel narrative to her Pulitzer Prize wining 2004 novel Gilead were among the five finalists for the 2008 National Book Critics Circle Award in Fiction announced last Saturday night at Housing Works Bookstore in Manhattan.  Conspicuously missing from the list is Toni Morrison's novel A Mercy, a November release, which may have limited its chances with the NBCC selection panel.
 
2666--
a sprawling narrative in which four literary critics tracking the movements of a legendarily reclusive German author and a Black American journalist covering a Mexican boxing match converge and become caught up in the investigation of an unsolved (and ongoing) series of over 400 grisly serial murders of women in the fictionalized border city of Santa Teresa (actually Ciudad Juárez) across the Rio Grande from El Paso--is the most touted work of international fiction to have an impact on American readers since Orhan Pamuk's Snow (2004).  It is the final book Bolano worked on and completes his posthumous reclamation--he died in 2003 from liver disease at age 50--from exiled poète maudit and literary provocateur to arguably the most innovative Latin American writer since the "irrealists" Jorge Luis Borges and Julio Cortázar and the subsequent "magical realists" of El Boom
 
New Jersey born "loner/genius" August Kleinzahler--the recent recipient of a Lannan Foundation Literary Award--headed up the list of 2008 NBCC Award in Poetry finalists for his collection Sleeping It Off in Rapid City.  Among the other finalists are California based, first generation Chicano poet Juan Felipe Herrara, for his collection Half the World in Light, and Japanese born, Columbia University based Brenda Shaughnessy, whose Human Dark with Sugar has already received the Academy of American Poets' 2008 James Laughlin Award. 
 
Here is the complete list of finalists in each category, courtesy the National Book Critics Circle web site.  Winners in each category will be announced at the NCCC ceremony at The New School University’s Tishman Auditorium in Manhattan on March 12th.
   
Fiction


Roberto Bolaño, 2666, FSG
Marilynne Robinson, Home, FSG
Aleksandar Hemon, The Lazarus Project, Riverhead
M. Glenn Talyor, The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart, West Virginia University Press
Elizabeth Strout, Olive Kittredge, Random House


Poetry



August Kleinzahler, Sleeping It Off in Rapid City, FSG
Juan Felipe Herrera, Half the World in Light, University of Arizona Press
Devin Johnston, Sources, Turtle Point Press
Pierre Martory, trans. by John Ashbery, The Landscapist, Sheep Meadow Press
Brenda Shaughnessy, Human Dark with Sugar, Copper Canyon Press

Criticism


Richard Brody, Everything Is Cinema: The Working Life of Jean-Luc Godard, Metropolitan Books
Vivian Gornick, The Men in My Life, Boston Review/MIT
Joel L. Kraemer, Maimonides: The Life and World of One of Civilization’s Greatest Minds, Doubleday
Reginald Shepherd, Orpheus in the Bronx: Essays on Identity, Politics, and the Freedom of Poetry, University of Michigan Press
Seth Lerer, Children's Literature: A Reader's History: Reader's History from Aesop to Harry Potter, University of Chicago Press

Biography


Paula J. Giddings, Ida, A Sword Among Lions: Ida B. Wells and the Campaign Against Lynching, Amistad
Steve Coll, The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in an American Century, Penguin Press
Patrick. French, The World Is What It Is: The Authorized Biography of V.S. Naipaul, Knopf
Annette Gordon-Reed, The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family, Norton
Brenda Wineapple, White Heat: The Friendship of Emily Dickinson & Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Knopf

Autobiography


Rick Bass, Why I Came West, Houghton Mifflin
Helene Cooper, The House on Sugar Beach, Simon and Schuster
Honor Moore, The Bishop’s Daughter, W.W. Norton
Andrew X. Pham, The Eaves of Heaven, Harmony Books
Ariel Sabar, My Father's Paradise: A Son's Search for His Jewish Past in Kurdish Iraq, Algonquin

Nonfiction



Dexter Filkins, The Forever War, Knopf
Drew Gilpin Faust, This Republic of Suffering: Death and the Civil War, Knopf
Jane Mayer, The Dark Side, Doubleday
Allan Lichtman, White Protestant Nation, Atlantic Monthly Press
George C. Herring, From Colony to Superpower: U.S. Foreign Relations Since 1776, Oxford University Press 

--R.D. Pohl

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