Ann Patchett’s “Commonwealth,” a novel inspired by her own family, and Michael Chabon’s “Moonglow,” a novel based on the life of his grandfather, are among the finalists for this year’s National Book Critics Circle fiction prize. The fiction finalists, announced Tuesday morning, also include “LaRose,” the latest novel about the Ojibwa people of North Dakota by Louise Erdrich, and “Swing Time,” by British novelist Zadie Smith.

The NBCC is an organization of nearly 1,000 reviewers and book section editors. The finalists in six categories are chosen by the group’s 24-person board.

Several of the finalists for the prize in general nonfiction reflect the tenor of the times. Ibram X. Kendi’s “Stamped From the Beginning” is a history of American racism that won the National Book Award for nonfiction last fall. “Dark Money,” by New Yorker writer Jane Mayer, examines the influence on American politics of conservative billionaires including Charles and David Koch. “Evicted,” by MacArthur “genius” grant winner Matthew Desmond, is a study of American poverty and homelessness based on the experiences of eight families in Milwaukee.

Margaret Atwood (Liam Sharp)

Today, ahead of the winners’ ceremony this spring, the NBCC also announced the recipients of three special prizes:

●Canadian writer Margaret Atwood has received the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award. The prize recognizes Atwood for her many short stories, poems, children’s books, works of nonfiction and 16 novels, including “The Handmaid’s Tale” (1985) and “The Blind Assassin,” which won a Booker Prize in 2000.

●Yaa Gyasi’s debut novel, “Homegoing” (Knopf), has won the John Leonard Prize, an annual award for a first book in any genre.

●Michelle Dean, whose criticism appears regularly in the Guardian, the New Republic and other publications, has won this year’s Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing.

Atwood, Gyasi and Dean will receive their honors at a ceremony on March 16 at the New School in New York, where the NBCC will also announce the winners for best fiction, nonfiction, autobiography, biography, criticism and poetry.

The full list of NBCC finalists follows. (To read The Post’s reviews, click on the authors):


“Moonglow,” by Michael Chabon (Harper).

“LaRose,” by Louise Erdrich (Harper).

“Imagine Me Gone,” by Adam Haslett (Little, Brown).

“Commonwealth,” by Ann Patchett (Harper).

“Swing Time,” by Zadie Smith (Penguin Press).


“Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City,” by Matthew Desmond (Crown).

“Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America,” by Ibram X. Kendi (Nation).

“Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right,” by Jane Mayer (Doubleday).

“Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War,” by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Harvard University Press).

“Writing to Save a Life: The Louis Till File,” by John Edgar Wideman (Scribner).


“The Iceberg,” Marion Coutts (Black Cat).

“In Gratitude,” by Jenny Diski (Bloomsbury).

“Lab Girl,” by Hope Jahren (Knopf).

“The Return: Fathers, Sons, and the Land in Between,” by Hisham Matar (Random House).

“The Song Poet: A Memoir of My Father,” by Kao Kalia Yang (Metropolitan).


“Moscow Nights: The Van Cliburn Story,” by Nigel Cliff (Harper).

“Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life,” by Ruth Franklin (Liveright).

“Black Elk: The Life of an American Visionary,” by Joe Jackson (FSG).

“Krazy: George Herriman, a Life in Black and White,” by Michael Tisserand (Harper).

“Guilty Thing: A Life of Thomas De Quincey,” by Frances Wilson (FSG).


“White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide,” by Carol Anderson (Bloomsbury).

“Against Everything: Essays,” by Mark Greif (Pantheon).

“Looking for The Stranger: Albert Camus and the Life of a Literary Classic,” by Alice Kaplan (Univ. of Chicago Press).

“The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone,” by Olivia Laing (Picador).

“Am I Alone Here?: Notes on Living to Read and Reading to Live,” by Peter Orner (Catapult).


“House of Lords and Commons,” by Ishion Hutchinson (FSG).

“Olio,” by Tyehimba Jess (Wave).

“Works and Days,” by Bernadette Mayer (New Directions).

“At the Foundling Hospital,” by Robert Pinsky (FSG).

“Blackacre,” by Monica Youn (Graywolf).

Disclosure: Ron Charles, the editor of Book World, is a board member of the NBCC.