On the chilly evening of March 13, authors, editors, agents, publishers, and publicists crowded into the auditorium at the New School for the National Book Critics Circle Award ceremony, which celebrated the best titles released in 2013.
The night’s big winners included Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who shouted in celebration as she approached the podium to accept the fiction award for her novel Americanah (Knopf). She went on to say how humbled she was to keep company with Alice McDermott (Someone), a fellow finalist who was also Adichie’s teacher at Johns Hopkins, where she received an M.F.A.
In one of the evening’s more poignant moments, Sue Leonard, wife of critic and NBCC founding member John Leonard, who passed away in 2008, presented the new award named after her late husband to Anthony Marra, for his novel A Constellation of Vital Phenomena (Hogarth). The award recognizes a notable debut in any genre. “There was nothing John enjoyed more as a critic than discovering a new writer,” she remarked. “Because of this prize, [he] now belongs to the ages, and Anthony Marra is well and truly launched.”