At a meeting yesterday, the remaining members of the National Book Critics Circle's board of directors named a new president and decided to put deliberations for its annual awards on hold as the organization regroups following a week of infighting and the exodus of more than half of its board members.
Jane Ciabattari, who served as NBCC president from 2008-2011, was elected to serve in that role again at yesterday's meeting. According to a member of the board who requested anonymity, as public discussion of internal board matters constitutes a violation of NBCC board policy, Ciabattari plans to serve in the role only temporarily, as the board needs a president to fulfill certain parliamentary requirements including calling meetings to order, calling for votes, and the like.
"She really doesn’t want to be doing it," the board member told PW. "She’s not intending to linger." Responding to that characterization, Ciabattari told PW: "I was on the working committee to create the NBCC's anti-racism pledge and am simply here to facilitate a discussion for the purpose of creating a new board in collaboration with the membership." She added that questions about the NBCC should be directed to our Richard Z. Santos, the organization's v-p of membership.
Next year's National Book Critics Circle Awards, honoring books published in 2020, would ordinarily be held in March 2021. However, while the board hopes to bestow the awards at some point next year, the reading and deliberation process will be put on hold until the organization and its internal culture has been "reimagined," the board member told PW, adding: “People know that if the organization is going to have a future, it needs to change, both for its own sake and the sake of the literary community.”
At this juncture, the NBCC board is down to 10 members, with v-p of awards Kerri Arsenault resigning following the publication of PW's article on the situation on Monday. The board of directors page on the organization's website has not yet been updated to reflect any of those changes.
This article has been updated for clarity and with further information.