Robinson, Chast among winners of book critics prizes

AP News
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Posted: Mar 12, 2015 8:06 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — Novelist Marilynne Robinson and cartoonist Roz Chast were among the winners Thursday night of National Book Critics Circle prizes.

Robinson's "Lila," the last of her acclaimed trilogy of Iowa-based novels that also includes "Gilead" and "Home," won for fiction. Chast's graphic memoir about her elderly parents, "Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?" was cited for autobiography, and John Lahr's "Tennessee Williams" won for biography.

In the nonfiction category, critics selected another finale to a celebrated trilogy: David Brion Davis' "The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Emancipation," which concludes a groundbreaking project the 88-year-old historian worked on for half a century. Claudia Rankine's "Citizen" won for poetry and "The Essential Ellis Willis," an anthology of the late critic and essayist, was cited for criticism.

Rankine's book was such a boundary-defying mix of verse, history and commentary that it also was a criticism nominee.

Other finalists in the six competitive categories included French economist Thomas Piketty's surprise best-seller about the income divide, "Capital in the Twenty-First Century," and Chang-rae Lee's novel "On Such a Full Sea."

The critics also presented a lifetime achievement award to Toni Morrison and a citation for best debut to Phil Klay, the Iraq War veteran whose story collection "Redeployment" won the National Book Award last fall. New Yorker staffer Alexandra Schwartz received the only cash prize, $1,000, as winner of the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing.

Founded in 1974, the critics circle has about 700 members, based throughout the country.