The author of a book nominated for the National Book Critics Circle award for fiction was misidentified yesterday. The author of "The Age of Grief," a collection of stories, is Jane Smiley. (Published 12/9/87)
The National Book Critics Circle, the professional society of American book reviewers, yesterday chose 25 books in five categories as nominees for the best literary work of 1987.
Toni Morrison's "Beloved" and Philip Roth's "The Counterlife," two novels that were passed over last month by judges of the National Book Awards, were among the NBCC's fiction nominations, along with Tom Wolfe's bestselling "The Bonfire of the Vanities," Wallace Stegner's "Crossing to Safety" and James Smiley's "The Age of Grief," a collection of stories.
In the general nonfiction category, the book critics nominated Richard Rhodes' "The Making of the Atomic Bomb," which won the National Book Award for nonfiction this year, and four other books: Randy Shilts' "And the Band Played On: Politics, People and the AIDS Epidemic"; Charles Mee's "The Genius of the People"; James Miller's " 'Democracy Is in the Streets' "; and Stephen Jay Gould's "Time's Arrow, Time's Cycle."
Books nominated for the biography and autobiography award were Annie Dillard's "An American Childhood," Arthur Miller's "Timebends," Donald R. Howard's "Chaucer: His Life, His Works, His World," S.J. Perelman's "Don't Tread on Me" (a selection of letters) and Paul Taylor's "Private Domain."
Yesterday's daylong deliberations by the NBCC board of directors followed balloting by 128 of the more than 434 members of the organization. Members voting in sufficient numbers can nominate up to three of the five titles in each category, leaving the board to complete each list by informal straw votes and discussion.
The membership cast enough ballots to nominate outright the Roth, Morrison and Wolfe novels, the Shilts and Rhodes books in the nonfiction category, and the Dillard and Miller memoirs. The process of filling out those three slates, and composing the other two from scratch, took the 22 NBCC board members in attendance a grueling seven hours at the Algonquin Hotel yesterday.
Robert Lowell's "Collected Prose" dominated the nominations for best criticism of 1987, according to a board member in attendance, but even so the category was unusually strong. The other four nominees are Guy Davenport's "Every Force Involves a Form," Joseph Horowitz's "Understanding Toscanini" and two works of dance criticism, Arlene Croce's "Sight Lines" and Edwin Denby's "Dance Writings."
The five nominees for poetry were C.K. Williams' "Flesh and Blood," May Swenson's "In Other Words," Alan Shapiro's "Happy Hour," Donald Justice's "The Sunset Maker: Poems/Stories/A Memoir," and John Ashbery's "April Galleons."
According to one board member, serious contenders for fiction nominations included Mona Simpson's "Anywhere but Here" and Richard Ford's "Rock Springs." In another category, the membership voted heavily, and paradoxically, for both Todd Gitlin's "The Sixties" and Allan Bloom's "The Closing of the American Mind," but not enough to garner either book a nonfiction nomination.
Alfred A. Knopf, a perennial publisher of prize-winners in the triad of annual American literary honors (the NBCC, the National Book Awards and the Pulitzer Prizes) captured seven of the 25 nominees. Farrar Straus & Giroux, which is showing unusual strength in 1987, took four, with two apiece going to Simon and Schuster, Harper & Row and Viking.
The winners will be announced after final deliberations of the board on Jan. 11.