Updike and Didion Among Book Critics Circle Finalists

Associated Press
Monday, January 16, 2006

NEW YORK -- Joan Didion, William T. Vollmann and John Updike were among the finalists announced Saturday for the National Book Critics Circle Awards.

The fiction nominees included Vollmann's "Europe Central," E.L. Doctorow's "The March" and Mary Gaitskill's "Veronica." Two British releases also were nominated: Kazuo Ishiguro's "Never Let Me Go" and Andrea Levy's "Small Island."

Doris Kearns Goodwin's "Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln" was among the nominees for biography. It was Goodwin's first book since she acknowledged in 2002 that numerous passages from "The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys" closely resembled another author's work, leading her to pull the book off the market. No such criticism has been made against "Team of Rivals," a bestseller highly praised by reviewers.

Other biography finalists: D.C. resident Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin's "American Prometheus," about atomic pioneer J. Robert Oppenheimer; Carolyn Burke's "Lee Miller"; Jonathan Coe's "Like a Fiery Elephant"; and Ron Powers's "Mark Twain."

Memoir nominees were Didion's "The Year of Magical Thinking"; Orhan Pamuk's "Istanbul"; Francine du Plessix Gray's "Them"; Judith Moore's "Fat Girl"; and Vikram Seth's "Two Lives." Pamuk faces up to three years in prison in Turkey for remarks made during an interview about two of his country's most sensitive issues: the mass slaughter of Armenians during World War I and the recent struggles with the Kurds.

His trial, which has been delayed so officials can review the charges, has led to international criticism and has complicated Turkey's efforts to join the European Union.

Besides Updike, nominated for "Still Looking," criticism nominees were "Unnatural Wonders," by Arthur Danto; Hal Crowther's "Gather at the River"; William Logan's "The Undiscovered Country"; and Eliot Weinberger's "What Happened Here."

The finalists for poetry: Simon Armitage's "The Shout"; Manuel Blas de Luna's "Bent to the Earth"; Jack Gilbert's "Refusing Heaven"; Richard Siken's "Crush"; and Ron Slate's "The Incentive of the Maggot."

The awards will be announced March 3.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company