National Book Critics Circle Picks

In case you need yet another list of books to read before March (see the other list HERE, 4 books actually make both lists), the NBCC announced the shortlist for this year’s awards on January 22. Taken from the always awesome Poets & Writers magazine, here’s what the critics were saying about these finalists before they were, well, finalists:

Nox is a luminous, big, shivering, discandied, unrepentant, barking web of an elegy.” Meghan O’Rourke on Carson’s poetry collection, New Yorker

“If you only read one book of poetry this year, that’s not enough, but start with this one.” Craig Morgan Teicher on Graber’s The Eternal CityPublishers Weekly

“Talking to the reader as if she were sitting next to him on a bar stool, Hayes makes poems that flatter our subtlety and make unfussy the business of turning on the imagination’s light.” John Freeman on LightheadDallas Morning News

“Turning each corner of a Ryan poem, the eye drops to the next solid, well-planked surface.” John Freeman on The Best of ItLos Angeles Times

One With Others is potent because it is alive with voices, alive with suffering, alive with a language which earmarks an era, but also a message which seeks to persist. It is also alive with an ideology of hatred that still courses through the United States today.” Steven Karl on Wright’s poetry collection,Coldfront

“For a book so relentlessly savvy about the digital age and its effect on how we experience time (speeded up, herky-jerky, instantaneous, but also full of unbearable gaps and pauses), A Visit From the Goon Squad is remarkably old-fashioned in its obsession with time’s effects on characters, that preoccupation of those doorstop nineteenth-century novels.” Will Blythe on Egan’s novel,  New York Times Book Review

“Some of Freedom’s sentences are so well-written you want to pluck them out, stab them with little corn holders, and eat them.” Sam Anderson on Franzen’s novel, New York Magazine

“Why was Freedom written?” B. R. Myers also weighs in, The Atlantic

“Grossman invites us to look beneath the shrill headlines, beyond the roadblocks, within the clenched fist — to see Israel’s predicament not as ‘the situation’ but as many situations, one for every person.” Donna Rifkind on To the End of the LandKansas City Star

“Keilson treats his characters tenderly, sympathizing with their difficulties and forgiving them their mistakes…. Keilson’s work as a psychoanalyst displays an empathy and a sensitivity to suffering that are surely the equal—if not arguably the superior—of any of which a novelist is capable.” Dan Vitale on Comedy in a Minor Key, which was originally published in German in 1947 (in a review that also covers Keilson’s Death of the Adversary), Three Percent

“One of Murray’s achievements is to evoke the mournfully short-lived nature of adolescent forevers.” Richard Eder on Skippy DiesLos Angeles Times

“Dow’s candor seems so absolute that readers on both sides of the [death penalty] debate
can gain insight into the thought process of an experienced advocate.
His prose is captivating.” Steve Weinberg on Autobiography of an ExecutionChristian Science Monitor

“Hitchens’s political writing radiates anger and toughness, but his stories of his loved ones are remarkably sensitive and emotionally real.” Michael Schaub on Hitch 22National Public Radio

Hiroshima in the Morning is a deeply affecting record of the author’s exploration of story and memory, and an intriguing addition to existing 9/11-related books.” J. G. Stinson on Rizzuto’s memoir ForeWord Reviews

Just Kids is the most spellbinding and diverting portrait of
funky-but-chic New York in the late sixties and early seventies that any alumnus
has committed to print.” Tom Carson on Smith’s memoir, New York Times Book Review

“What is truly exceptional here is watching a writer of fine fiction…probe, directly, carefully and with great humility, the source from which his fiction springs.” Dani Shapiro on Strauss’s Half a LifeNew York Times Book Review

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