If reading a few pages from their books before a rapt audience helps to introduce authors to the public and generates a few more sales, 20 of the 30 finalists who appeared at the first of two nights celebrating the National Book Critics Circle awards at the New School’s Tishman Auditorium in New York last night were a great success.
All five of the 2012 fiction nominees and many in the five other categories for the NBCC awards were on hand to deliver short excerpts from their books. The novelists and their books were:
- Laurent Binet. HHhH. translated by Sam Taylor. Farrar, Straus and Giroux
- Ben Fountain. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. Ecco
- Adam Johnson. The Orphan Master’s Son. Random House
- Lydia Millet. Magnificence. W. W. Norton
- Zadie Smith. NW. The Penguin Press
The event culminates tonight in the announcement of the winners from the same stage. Eligible for this year’s prizes from the organization of book critics were books published in the United States in 2012. Besides fiction, the categories are poetry, criticism, autobiography, biography and nonfiction. These are the only national literary honors chosen by critics themselves.
Eric Banks, president of NBCC, said in his introduction that one nominee, the late Anthony Shadid, author of House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family and a Lost Middle East, who died in Syria a year ago while reporting for the New York Times, was being represented by his longtime book editor George Hodgman.
Banks, noting that Binet had come all the way from France to read from the translation of his novel, welcomed all the authors, whether they had traveled a long way or from “the other side of Greenwich Village.”
Adam Johnson prefaced his reading by declaring, “I’m very humbled to be in such company.” Johnson teaches creative writing at Stanford University. The setting of his novel is North Korea.