Five Black Authors Among the Finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Awards

The finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Awards have been announced. There are 30 finalists, five in each of six categories including fiction, nonfiction, autobiography, biography, criticism, and poetry. The winners of the National Book Critics Awards will be presented in New York City on March 8.

Among the 30 finalists are books by five Black authors.

(L to R) Teju Cole, Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts, Manning Marable, Aracelis Girmay, and Yusef Komunyakaa

Teju Cole is a finalist in the fiction category for his novel Open City. The novel is about a young Nigerian who is conducting his residency in psychiatry in New York.

Cole is Distinguished Writer in Residence at Bard College. He is a graduate of Kalamazoo College in Michigan and holds a master’s degree from the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London. He is currently a doctoral candidate at Columbia University.

Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts is a finalist in the autobiography category for her book, Harlem Is Nowhere: A Journey to the Mecca of Black America. A native of Houston, Texas, she is a 2000 graduate of Harvard University. She was a Fulbright Scholar in the United Kingdom.

The late Manning Marable is being honored for his biography Malcolm X: A Life. The book was published last April, three days after Professor Marable’s death. Dr. Marable was the M. Moran Weston and Black Alumni Council Professor of African-American Studies and professor of history and public affairs at Columbia University.

Dr. Marable was a graduate of Earlham College. He held a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin and a Ph.D. in American history from the University of Maryland.

Aracelis Girmay is a finalist in the poetry category for her book Kingdom Animalia. She is an assistant professor of poetry at Hampshire College in Massachusetts.

Professor Girmay is a graduate of Connecticut College and earned a master of fine arts degree in poetry from New York University. She has also taught at Queens College and Drew University.

Yusef Komunyakaa is also a finalist in the poetry category for The Chameleon Couch. He is currently Distinguished Senior Poet in the graduate program of creative writing at New York University. He previously taught at the University of New Orleans, Indiana University, and Princeton University.

Professor Komunyakaa is a native of Louisiana. He is a graduate of the University of Colorado and holds master’s degrees from Colorado State University and the University of California at Irvine.

Update: None of the five Black writers were selected as winners at the March 8 ceremony in New York City.

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