McCarthy, Eggers Up for Critics Awards

The Associated Press
Saturday, January 20, 2007; 8:39 PM

NEW YORK -- Acclaimed novels by Cormac McCarthy, Richard Ford and Dave Eggers, all passed over last fall for the National Book Awards, were among the finalists announced Saturday for the 33rd annual National Book Critics Circle prize.

Other fiction nominees included Kiran Desai's "The Inheritance of Loss," winner last year of Britain's Man Booker Prize, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's "Half of a Yellow Sun."

Michael Pollan's "The Omnivore's Dilemma" and Simon Schama's "Rough Crossings" were both nominated for general nonfiction. "At Canaan's Edge," the third of Taylor Branch's award-winning trilogy about the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement, was a biography finalist.

Winners will be announced March 8. There are no cash prizes.

McCarthy was nominated for "The Road," a dire, apocalyptic tale from the author of "All the Pretty Horses" and "Blood Meridian." Ford was cited for "The Lay of the Land," his third novel about American everyman Frank Bascombe, and a follow-up to "Independence Day," winner in 1996 of the Pulitzer Prize.

Two fiction nominees were based on civil wars in Africa: "Half of a Yellow Sun" is set during the Nigerian conflict that broke out in 1967 and left more than 1 million dead, while Eggers' "What is the What" is a fictionalized memoir of Valentino Achak Deng, a refugee from the Sudanese civil war of the 1980s and 1990s.

The winner of the National Book Award for fiction, Richard Powers' "The Echo Maker," was not nominated. The National Book Awards are chosen by panels of fellow authors.

Besides Pollan and Schama, nonfiction finalists were Patrick Cockburn's "The Occupation," Ann Fessler's "The Girls Who Went Away" and Sandy Tolan's "The Lemon Tree." Nominees for biography included Debby Applegate's "The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher," Julie Phillips' "James Tiptree, Jr: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon," Frederick Brown's "Flaubert" and Jason Roberts' "A Sense of the World: How a Blind Man Became History's Greatest Traveler."

"Strange Piece of Paradise," in which author Terri Jentz writes of a traumatic bike trip from the 1970s, when she and a friend were attacked by an ax-wielding man, was nominated for best memoir. Others cited were Alison Bechdel's "Fun Home," Alexander Masters' "Stuart: A Life Backwards," Daniel Mendelsohn's "The Lost" and Donald Antrim's "The Afterlife."

Eighty-one year-old W.D. Snodgrass, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and numerous other awards, was a poetry finalist for "Not for Specialists." Fellow nominees included Daisy Fried's "My Brother is Getting Arrested Again," Frederick Siedel's "Ooga-Booga," the late Miltos Sachtouris' "Poems 1945-1971" and Troy Jollimore's "Tom Thomson in Purgatory."

The finalists for criticism: Bruce Bawer's "While Europe Slept," Frederick Crews' "Follies of the Wise," Daniel C. Dennett's "Breaking the Spell," Lawrence Weschler's "Everything That Rises" and Lia Purpura's "On Looking."

Two honorary prizes for criticism also were announced Saturday. Steven G. Kellman, whose work has appeared in The Texas Observer, The Georgia Review and other publications, won the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing. Longtime critic John Leonard, who has written for The New York Times, The New York Review of Books and The Nation among others, won the Ivan Sandrof Life Achievement Award.

The National Book Critics Circle, founded in 1974, has around 500 members.

© 2007 The Associated Press