On March 8, the National Book Critic Circle presented its awards for publishing year 2011.
University of Michigan Professor of English Laura Kasischke received the poetry award for Space, in Chains (Copper Canyon Press), which judges referred to as “a formally inventive work that speaks to the horrors and delights of ordinary life in an utterly original way.”
Kasischke has published eight collections of poetry and eight novels. Her novels include Suspicious River (1996),White Bird in a Blizzard (1999), and The Life Before Her Eyes(2002). They have been translated widely, and adapted for film. She has been the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, two creative writing fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the DiCastagnola Award from the Poetry Society of America, several Pushcart Prizes, the Bobst Award for Emerging Writers, and the Beatrice Hawley Award. Her other collections of poetry include Space, in Chains, Lilies, Without, Gardening in the Dark, Wild Brides,Housekeeping in a Dream , Fire and Flower and What It Wasn’t . Her poems and stories have been published inPloughshares, The American Poetry Review, The New Republic , The Kenyon Review, Poetry, The Iowa Review and elsewhere.
Nonfiction went to Maya Jasanoff for Liberty’s Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary World (Knopf), a book of fresh, original, and sprightly scholarship, by Harvard professor of British history Jasanoff, acknowledging colonists’ response to Loyalists during the Revolutionary War and the consequences for Britain’s entire empire thereafter.
The biography award went to John Lewis Gaddis for George F. Kennan: An American Life(Penguin Press), a book that brings alive the remarkable American statesman while also delivering a profound understanding of U.S. foreign policy in the 20th-century.
The autobiography award went to Mira Bartók for The Memory Palace: A Memoir (Free Press), a book that rose to the formal challenge of blending her mother’s journals, reflections on her mother’s mental illness and subsequent homelessness, and thoughts on her own recovery from a head injury to create a heartfelt yet respectful work of art.
The award for criticism went to Geoff Dyer for Otherwise Known as the Human Condition: Selected Essays and Reviews (Graywolf Press), celebrating critic par excellence who showed his love of his various subject in tour-de-force language.
Kathryn Schulz was presented the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing, and Roberts B. Silvers of the New York Review of Books was presented the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award.