Paul Beatty’s satirical novel on race, The Sellout (FSG), was awarded the prize for fiction at the National Book Critics Circle awards ceremony held at the New School in New York City on Thursday night. Sam Quinones’ bracing examination of addiction, Dreamland: The True Story of America’s Opiate Epidemic (Bloomsbury), was awarded the prize for nonfiction.
Negroland (Pantheon), Margo Jefferson’s memoir of growing up in an elite African American family won the autobiography award, and the biography prize went to Charlotte Gordon for Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Her Daughter Mary Shelley (Random House).
Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts (Graywolf), a personal story of queer family-life with meditations on gender politics, won the prize for criticism, and Ross Gay’s Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude was awarded the NBCC award for poetry.
The John Leonard Prize, which honors an outstanding first book in any genre, went to Kristin Valdez Quade for her short story collection, Night at the Fiestas (W.W. Norton). Carlos Lozada, associate editor and nonfiction book critic at the Washington Post, was awarded the 2015 Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing. The citation comes with a $1,000 cash prize.
And the winner of the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award is poet, novelist, critic, farmer and environmentalist, Wendell Berry. The 81 year-old Berry is the author of more than 50 books including his most recent essay collection, 2015's Our Only World.