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Ling Ma, Isaac Butler and Morgan Talty Among National Book Critics Circle Award Winners


Ling Ma, Morgan Talty, Boris Dralyuk and Isaac Butler are among the winners of the 2022 National Book Critics Circle Awards announced during a ceremony Thursday night at the New School in New York City.

Ma won the prize for fiction for “Bliss Montage: Stories,” her debut short story collection, full of offbeat stories that nod to her knack for surrealism: a woman who lives with all her ex-boyfriends; friends taking pills that make them invisible; a yeti seducing a woman to the smooth soundtrack of Janet Jackson.

“Ma makes a good concept when she finds one,” Hillary Kelly wrote in a Times review of “Bliss Montage,” a follow-up to “Severance,” her widely acclaimed dystopian debut novel. She “pulls at the meat of this juicy morsel until it is so distorted that she can no longer safely hold the seed in the center of it,” Kelly added.

Talty won the John Leonard Award, given to a debut book in any category, for her collection of stories, “Night of the Living Rez”. The linked stories illuminate the harsh reality of life for a young Native American living on the Panawahpskek (Penobscot) Nation of Maine. Talty compassionately explores family and heritage, poverty, mental illness, and drug addiction through a contemporary lens.

Butler received the nonfiction award for “The Method: How the Twentieth Century Learned to Act,” a work that tells the story of the method’s influential approach to acting as if it were the biography of a concept, beginning with its origin in the late the 20th century.

In a Times review, Sheana Ochoa called it “interesting and meticulously researched,” adding that, “like a good 19th-century all-knowing novelist, Butler seamlessly jumps between his characters’ points of view as he recounts their lives and times.” …balancing gracefully on the right side of that fine line between contextualizing and condescending to the reader.”

Hua Hsu took home the autobiography award for “Stay True: A Memoir,” a coming-of-age story that delves into the friendship between two Asian-American college students as they navigate American culture and build a bond from of shared cigarettes and deep conversations. . The book explores meaning, belonging, and grief.

Beverly Gage won in the biography category for “G-Man: J. Edgar Hoover and the Making of the American Century,” which drew on never-before-seen sources to create a comprehensive portrait of Hoover’s life and career, placing him in the center of American political history to explore the evolution of government, political culture, and power.

“G-Man: J. Edgar Hoover and the Making of the American Century” was also a finalist for the 43rd Los Angeles Times Book Award in biography.

The critics’ award went to Timothy Bewes for “Free Indirect: The Novel in a Postfictional Age.” He NBCC’s Jennie Hann wrote, “The genius of ‘Free Indirect’ lies in the fact that, while Bewes illustrates the limitations of traditional approaches to the study of the novel, he somehow finds a way to transcend them. The result is a densely packed volume that bursts with information on every page.”

The poetry winner was Cynthia Cruzm for “Hotel Oblivion”, described by Four Way Books as a chronicle of “the subject’s repeated attempts to find a way out of capitalist society through acts of negative freedom and through commitment to the death drive, the goal of which is complete destruction in order to start anew.”

Joy Harjo received the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award. “The illustrious past recipients of the Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award include individuals whose own literary works have transformed book culture, as well as those whose activism and service on behalf of other writers have proven to have remarkable influence,” said the committee chair of the Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award. Award, Jacob M. Appeal “As three-term America’s Poet Laureate and a leading voice for Native American communities on and off the page, Harjo embodies both legacies. … She stands not only as a literary envoy for indigenous peoples everywhere, but also as the unrivaled ambassador of American poetry.”

The recipient of the Toni Morrison Achievement Award, established by NBCC in 2021 to honor institutions that have made lasting and significant contributions to book culture, was San Francisco-based independent bookstore and publisher City Lights.

“City Lights’ impact on American literature has been revolutionary,” Appel said, “which may be the highest compliment that can be paid to a company whose goal since its inception has been to transform both the field of literature and society. beyond. Since its founding in the early 1950s by Peter D. Martin and Lawrence Ferlinghetti…City Lights has introduced American audiences to bold new voices, inviting us to lunch with Frank O’Hara, stroll with Marie Ponsot, and howl with Allen Ginsberg . Much more than a print shop or bookstore, City Lights shines as a beacon for innovation and justice and as a beacon of light for readers and writers around the world who dream of a better world.”

The full list of finalists:


Jazmina Barrera, “Linea Nigra: An Essay on Pregnancy and Earthquakes” (translation by Christina McSweeney)

Hua Hsu, “Stay Faithful: A Memoir”

Dorthe Nors, “A Line in the World: A Year on the North Sea Coast” (translated by Caroline Waight)

Darryl Pinckney, “Come Back in September: A Literary Education on West Sixty-seventh Street, Manhattan”

Ingrid Rojas Contreras, “The man who could move clouds: a memory”


Kerri K. Greenidge, “The Grimkes: The Legacy of Slavery in an American Family”

Jennifer Homans, “Mr. B: George Balanchine’s 20th century”

Beverly Gage, “G-Man: J. Edgar Hoover and the Making of the American Century”

Clare Mac Cumhaill and Rachael Wiseman, “Metaphysical Animals: How Four Women Brought Philosophy Back to Life”

Aaron Sachs, “From the Depths: Herman Melville, Louis Mumford, and Rediscovery in Dark Times”


Rachel Aviv, “Strangers to Ourselves: Inquiring Minds and the Stories They Make Us”

Timothy Bewes, “Indirect Free: The Novel in a Post-Fictional Age”

Peter Brooks, “Seduced by History: The Use and Abuse of Narrative”

Margo Jefferson, “Building a Nervous System: A Memoir”

Alia Trabucco Zerán, “When Women Kill: Four Crimes Retold” (translated by Sophie Hughes)


Percival Everett, “Dr. No”

Jon Fosse, “A New Name: Septology VI-VII, trans. by Damion Searls

Mieko Kawakami, “All the Night Lovers,” trans. by Sam Bett and David Boyd”

Ling Ma, “Bliss Montage: Stories”

Namwali Serpell, “The Furrows”


Kelly Lytle Hernandez, “Bad Mexicans: Race, Empire, and Border Revolution”

Joseph Osmundson, “Virology: Essays for the Living, the Dead, and the Little Things in Between”

Isaac Butler, “The Method: How the Twentieth Century Learned to Act”

Annie Proulx, “Swamp, Bog, and Swamp: A Brief History of Peatland Destruction and its Role in the Climate Crisis”

Ed Yong, “A Big World: How the Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us”


Mosab Abu Toha, “Things you can find hidden in my ear”

Cynthia Cruz, “Hotel of Oblivion”

David Hernandez, “Hello, I have to go”

Paul Hlava Ceballos, “banana ( )”

Bernadette Mayer, “Milkweed Smithereens”

Gregg Barrios Book Award in Translation

Jennifer Croft’s translation of “The Books of Jacob” by Olga Tokarczuk

Fady Joudah’s translation of Maya Abu Al-Hayyat’s “You Can Be the Last Leaf”

Boris DralyukTranslation of “Grey Bees” by Andrey Kurkov

Translation by Mara Faye Lethem of “When I Sing, Mountains Dance” by Irene Solà

Christina MacSweeney’s translation of “Linea Nigra” by Jazmina Barrera

Mark Polizzotti’s translation of “Kibogo” by Scholastique Mukasonga

John Leonard Award

Jessamine Chan, “The School of Good Mothers”

Jonathan Escoffery, “If I Survive You”

Tess Gunty, “The Hutch”

Zain Khalid, “Living Brother”

Maud Newton, “Ancestral Troubles: A Reckoning and Reconciliation”

Morgan Talty, “Night of the Living Rez”

Vauhini Vara, “The Immortal King Rao”

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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