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Posts Tagged ‘Steven G. Kellman’

Geoff Dyer Wins NBCC Criticism Award

Author Edith Pearlman has won the National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) award for for fiction for her collection, Binocular Vision: New & Selected Stories (Lookout Books) and Maya Jasanoff has won the nonfiction award for Liberty’s Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary World (Knopf).

Geoff Dyer took the criticism award for Otherwise Known as the Human Condition: Selected Essays and Reviews (Graywolf Press). On Sunday, we will host a free online viewing of Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker in honor of Dyer’s most recent book, Zona.

The award ceremony was held at the New School’s Tishman Auditorium in New York City. We’ve rounded up all the winners below…

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And the NBCC Awards Go To…

While NBCC Board member Rebecca Skloot liveblogged the awards, Ron and I sat through a somewhat speedy ceremony emceed by president John Freeman and highlighted by Mary Gordon‘s glowing retrospective and tribute (accompanied by retro Jill Krementz photography) to Sandrof winner John Leonard, followed by Leonard’s own words, a speech so filled with mirth, self-deprecation and reflections on present and past reviewing that I hope the transcript is made publicly available at some point. Nona Balakian winner Steven G. Kellman was a quote-a-minute, namechecking the gamut from H.L. Mencken (who had unkind words about criticism and even more scathing words about poetry – partly because of a volume he himself had written and then done everything in his power to squelch) to Lily Tomlin (“we’re all in this together – alone,” as applied to book critics, who Kellman quipped “are the only critics who can do their job in their underwear.”)

Then came the awards:

Criticism: Lawrence Weschler, EVERYTHING THAT RISES: A BOOK OF CONVERGENCES (McSweeney’s)
Poetry: Troy Jollimore, TOM THOMSON IN PURGATORY (Margie/Intuit House)
Non-Fiction: Simon Schama, ROUGH CROSSINGS: BRITAIN, SLAVES AND THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION (Ecco)
Biography: Julie Phillips
, JAMES TIPTREE, JR.: THE DOUBLE LIFE OF ALICE B. SHELDON (St. Martin’s Press)
Autobiography: Daniel Mendelsohn, THE LOST (HarperCollins)
Fiction: Kiran Desai, THE INHERITANCE OF LOSS (Atlantic Monthly Press)

It’s an award winner list of some surprise – Jollimore’s win especially surprised the poetry faithful in the audience – and some that might have seemed like a surprise, like Desai, but on further reflection are just about right. Ron’s got more about notable quotes and the afterparty, but I’m especially happy to have chatted with John Leonard about his new prize, his belief that literary blogs are “where the passion is” and finding good books to read that might be off most people’s radar. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Scene @ NBCC Finalists Announcement Party

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When I arrived a few minutes early to Housing Works for the National Book Critics Circle‘s annual bash to announce their award finalists, I figured – like most parties – there would be a few stragglers and the food & drink stations wouldn’t even be fully set up yet. Guess again. Already packed, within ten minutes the bookstore was fully SRO, and it was impossible to move a square inch without bumping into one notable critic after another. Amy Bloom (left, pictured with independent publicist Kimberly Burns and PW’s Charlotte Abbott) was on hand to announce the fiction finalists, which was met with the usual mix of positive responses and grumbling undertone. Francine Duplessis Gray, in announcing the memoir/autobiography category, remarked that this category honored those with a penchant for self-indulgence, while Eliot Weinberger cracked that the criticism category was “the most prestigious for the most contentious.” The greatest round of applause was reserved for Alison Bechdel‘s FUN HOME, one of two books (the other Michael Pollan‘s AN OMNIVORE’S DILEMMA) voted onto the shortlist by the membership.

Among the many, many literati making the scene were Lizzie Skurnick (who’s recently been hired on by New York Magazine), the Complete Review‘s Michael Orthofer, Viking publisher Paul Slovak, Soft Skull‘s Richard Nash, Eat the Press’s Rachel Sklar, Emily Gordon, Poets & WritersDoug Diesenhaus, and former Balakian winner Scott McLemee, on hand to announce Steven G. Kellman as the category’s newest honoree.