Independent presses and women were well represented among the big winners at the National Book Critics Circle 34th annual awards ceremony, held March 15 at the New School in New York City. Women, in fact, took home the awards in all six writing categories.
Graywolf author Layli Long Soldier’s Whereas took home the honors in the poetry category, and Carman Maria Machado, another Graywolf author, won the John Leonard Prize for best first book for Her Body and Other Parties. The fiction prize was awarded to Joan Silber for Improvement, released by Counterpoint.
Simon & Schuster author Frances FitzGerald won the nonfiction prize for The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America. Carina Chocano took the criticism award for You Play the Girl: On Playboy Bunnies, Stepford Wives, Train Wrecks & Other Mixed Messages, published by Mariner.
Annual special presentations went to John McPhee, who won the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award, and Charles Finch, who was given the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing.
It was another well-attended event, and all winners were on hand, with the exception of Xiaolu Guo, who won the autobiography prize for Nine Continents: A Memoir in and out of China; her award was accepted by her Grove editor, Amy Hundley.
Frances FitzGerald (r.), winner of the nonfiction prize, with her Simon & Schuster editor, Alice Mayhew.
Biography winner Caroline Fraser (c.), with Sara Bershtel and Grigory Torbis, her publisher and editor at Metropolitan, respectively.
Layli Long Solider (l.), who was awarded the prize in poetry, with Graywolf publisher Fiona McCrae.
John McPhee (l.), who was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award, with former senator Bill Bradley.
The winner in criticism, Carina Chocano (l.), with Pilar Garcia-Brown, her editor at Mariner.