The National Book Critics Circle announced its shortlist last week, handing Random House nine nominations out of a total of 25 spots. Simon & Schuster, which won two National Book Awards, was shut out, which means David McCullough was, too.
Despite the tendency of judges to deviate from the NBA shortlist, three titles this year—Nina Bernstein's The Lost Children of Wilder (Pantheon), Jan Gross's Neighbors (Princeton) and Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections (FSG)—overlapped with it.
As with the NBAs, The Corrections made for an interesting subplot. The book made the cut even before the 24-judge panel could take up the question, as a large number of the NBCC general membership endorsed it. (The group's bylaws state that if a high percentage of the membership selects a book, it gets on the list automatically.) Alice Munro, for Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage (Knopf), and Paula Fox, for her memoir, Borrowed Finery, reportedly also earned their spots this way.
The NBCC did correct what some felt was an NBA oversight by selecting Laura Hillenbrand's Seabiscuit for General Nonfiction. But in Biography/ Autobiography it left out McCullough's John Adams and Edmund Morris's Theodore Rex, two highly acclaimed contenders.
Perhaps the oddest grouping came in the Criticism category, where Talk Miramax, which earned a nomination for Martin Amis's The War Against Cliché, kept company with houses like Yale (for H.J. Jackson's Marginalia) and Graywolf (for W.D. Snodgrass's De/Compositions). And Harper took home three of the five nominations for the poetry prize, two—Louise Glück's The Seven Ages and Czeslaw Milosz's A Treatise on Poetry—via its Ecco imprint.