Today the NBCC announced their finalists.


  • Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Someone, by Alice McDermott
  • The Infatuations, by Javier Marías (my review here)
  • A Tale for the Time Being, by Ruth Ozeki
  • The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt


  • Whitey Bulger: America’s Most Wanted Gangster and the Manhunt that Brought Him to Justice, by Kevin Cullen and Shelley Murphy
  • Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital, by Sherri Fink
  • Thank You for Your Service, by David Finkel
  • The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America, by George Packer
  • Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief, by Lawrence Wright


  • Metaphysical Dog, by Frank Bidart
  • Stay, Illusion, by Lucie Brock-Broido
  • Blowout, by Denise Duhamel
  • Elegy Owed, by Bob Hicok
  • Milk and Filth, by Carmen Gimenez Smith


  • Wave, by Sonali Deraniyagala
  • The Book of My Lives, by Aleksandar Hemon
  • The Faraway Nearby, by Rebecca Solnit
  • Men We Reaped, by Jesmyn Ward
  • Farewell, Fred Voodoo: A Letter from Haiti, by Amy Wilentz


  • Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East, by Scott Anderson
  • Jonathan Swift: His Life and His World, by Leo Damrosch
  • Bach: Music in the Castles of Heaven, by John Eliot Gardiner
  • Holding on Upside Down: The Life and Works of Marianne Moore, by Linda Leavell
  • Birth Certificate: The Story of Danilo Kis, by Mark Thompson


  • White Girls, by Hilton Als
  • Confronting the Classics: Traditions, Adventures and Innovations, by Mary Beard
  • The Kraus Project: Essays by Karl Kraus, translated and annotated by Jonathan Franzen with Paul Reiter and Daniel Kehlmann
  • Forty-One False Starts: Essays on Artists and Writers, by Janet Malcolm
  • Distant Reading, by Franco Moretti

-The Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award went to 84-year-old Rolando Hinojosa-Smith.

-The John Leonard Prize went to A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, by Anthony Marra. This prize was set up this year to “recognize outstanding first books in any genre.”

-The Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing went to Katherine A. Powers. Finalists were Ruth Franklin, James Marcus, Roxana Robinson, and Alexandra Schwartz.

A few random thoughts:

  • I began Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch last week. I’m not far, but she is proving to be an exceptional writer. I’m excited to keep going here, but don’t expect a review too soon — the book is over 700 pages long!
  • I have also read most of Aleksandar Hemon’s The Book of My Lives, and I can confidently recommend it.
  • I think the John Leonard Prize is interesting and it’s always nice to recognize debut works, but I also think it’s a bit weird the book was awarded there and is not a finalist in the fiction category. Do we really need a new award that recognizes debuts that didn’t become finalists in their own right?
  • I love to read Katherine A. Powers’ frequent reviews at the B&N Review. You can find an index of them here.
  • I cannot wait to get my hands on Mary Beard’s Confronting the Classics. I know nothing about this book, but Mary Beard is Mary Beard and it’s just going to be worth reading.
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