The recipients of this year's National Book Critics Circle Awards, which recognized titles published in 2014, were announced at a ceremony at the New School on March 12.
The night’s big winners included Claudia Rankine, the poetry winner for Citizen: An American Lyric (Graywolf Press); The Essential Ellen Willis, edited by Willis’s daughter, Nona Willis Aronowitz (University of Minnesota Press) won for criticism; Roz Chast, Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? (Bloomsbury) took home the award for autobiography; John Lahr won the biography award for Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh (Norton); David Brion Davis won for nonfiction for The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Emancipation (Knopf); and the fiction award went to Marilynne Robinson, for Lila (FSG).
Poetry winner Rankine was also nominated in the criticism category for Citizen, the first time ever in the history of the NBCC awards that one title was a finalist in two categories.
In addition to the reveal of the category prize winners, Toni Morrison was presented with the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award. In introducing Morrison, Pulitzer Prize winner and former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove called the writer “not only a prose virtuoso, but also a master of poetic sensibilities and lyrical language.”
Morrison, who received a standing ovation as she took the stage, commented on how “delighted and honored” she was to “join that long and distinguished list of authors” who had previously received the award.
Phil Klay was presented with the John Leonard Prize for Redeployment (Penguin Press), which also won the 2014 National Book Award for fiction. Named after the critic and founding member of the NBCC who died in 2008, the John Leonard Prize, established in 2014, honors a debut book in any genre.
The 2014 Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing was given to Alexandra Schwartz, an assistant editor at the New Yorker and a contributor to the magazine’s website. Schwartz’s writing has also appeared in The Nation, the New York Times, and the New Republic. The Balakian Citation comes with a $1,000 cash prize.
For a full list of this year's finalists, click here.