The finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Awards have been announced. There are 30 finalists, five in each of six categories including fiction, nonfiction, autobiography, biography, criticism, and poetry. The winners of the National Book Critics Awards will be presented in New York City on March 13.
Included among the 30 finalists are books by three Black authors who have ties to the American academic world.
Jesmyn Ward was nominated in the autobiography category for her book Men We Reaped: A Memoir (Bloomsbury). The book tells the stories of five young men in her life who died over a five-year period. Ward, who is an assistant professor of creative writing at the University of South Alabama, won the 2011 National Book Award for fiction for her novel Salvage the Bones that told the story of a family in the days before and after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Ward holds a master of fine arts degree from the University of Michigan.
Hilton Als was nominated in the criticism category for his book White Girls (McSweeney’s). Als is a writer and theater critic for The New Yorker. This book is his first in 15 years since his critically acclaimed The Women (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1996). Als is a former staff writer for The Village Voice and was editor at large for Vibe magazine. He has taught at Smith College, Wesleyan University, and Yale University.
Chimanmanda Ngozi Adichie is a finalist in the fiction category for her novel Americanah (Alfred A. Knopf). The story involves a Nigerian couple who are separated, one going to the United States for college and one living in London. Eventually, they both return to Nigeria. Like the character in her novel, Adichie left Nigeria at the age of 19 to study at Drexel University in Philadelphia. She transferred to Eastern Connecticut State University and graduated summa cum laude in 2001. She later earned a master’s degree in creative writing at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and a master’s degree in Africana studies from Yale University. She has taught at Princeton University and Harvard University.