Jesmyn Ward, Masha Gessen among nominees for critics awards

FILE - In this June 1, 2017, file photo, author Jesmyn Ward speaks at Book Expo America in New York. Ward’s “Sing, Unburied, Sing,” winner of the National Book Award for fiction, is now a nominee for the National Book Critics Circle prize, announced Monday, Jan. 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

NEW YORK — Jesmyn Ward's "Sing, Unburied, Sing," winner of the National Book Award for fiction, is now a nominee for the National Book Critics Circle prize.

Other finalists announced Monday include Mohsin Hamid's "Exit West" for fiction, Roxane Gay's "Hunger" for autobiography and Masha Gessen's "The Future is History," winner of the National Book Award for nonfiction. The celebrated author-journalist John McPhee will receive a lifetime achievement award and Carmen Maria Machado, author of the story collection "Her Body and Other Parties," will be honored for best debut book. The author-critic Charles Finch will receive a citation for "excellence in reviewing."

The critics circle chose five nominees in each of six competitive categories: fiction, nonfiction, autobiography, biography, poetry and criticism. Winners will be announced March 15.

Fiction nominees besides Ward's haunting story of family and race in the American South include Mohsin Hamid's best-selling tale of young lovers who become refugees, "Exit West"; Alice McDermott's "The Ninth Hour"; Joan Silber's "Improvement" and Arundhati Roy's "The Ministry of Utmost Happiness," her first novel since winning the Booker Prize in 1997 for "The God of Small of Things."

Besides Gessen, nonfiction nominees were Jack E. Davis for "Gulf: The Making of An American Sea," Frances FitzGerald for "The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America," Kapka Kassabova for "Border: A Journey to the Edge of Europe" and Adam Rutherford for "A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived: The Human Story Retold Through Our Genes." In biography, the finalists were Caroline Fraser's "Prairie Fires," Edmund Gordon's "The Invention of Angela Carter: A Biography," Howard Markel's "The Kelloggs: The Battling Brothers of Battle Creek," William Taubman's "Gorbachev: His Life and Times" and Kenneth Whyte's "Hoover: An Extraordinary Life in Extraordinary Times."

Autobiography finalists besides Gay's "Hunger" were Thi Bui's "An Illustrated Memoir," Henry Marsh's "Admissions: Life as a Brain Surgeon," Ludmilla Petrushevskay's "The Girl from the Metropol Hotel: Growing Up in Communist Russia" and Xiaolu Guo's "Nine Continents: A Memoir In and Out of China." In poetry, the nominees were Nuar Alsadir for "Fourth Person Singular," James Longenbach for "Earthling," Layli Long Soldier for "Whereas," Frank Ormsby for "The Darkness of Snow" and Ana Ristovic for "Directions for Use."

Edwidge Danticat, a prize-winning novelist and memoir writing, is a finalist in criticism for "The Art of Death: Writing the Final Story." The poet Kevin Young is also a criticism nominee for "Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News." The others cited were Carina Chocano for "You Play the Girl: On Playboy Bunnies, Stepford Wives, Train Wrecks, & Other Mixed Messages," Camille T. Dungy for "Guidebook to Relative Strangers: Journeys into Race, Motherhood, and History" and Valeria Luiselli for "Tell Me How it Ends."

The National Book Critics Circle, founded in 1974, is comprised of around 1,000 critics and book review editors.

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