The National Book Critics Circle Awards are given out in six categories: autobiography, biography, criticism, fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. This year, two of the six winners are African Americans with current affiliations in the academic world.
Ross Gay teaches in the creative writing program at Indiana University and for the low-residency master of fine arts degree program in poetry at Drew University in New Jersey. He won in the poetry category for his collection Catalogue of Unabashed Gratitude (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015). Dr. Gay is a native of Youngstown, Ohio. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania. Dr. Gay earned a master of fine arts degree from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York, and a Ph.D. in American literature from Temple University in Philadelphia. He is also being presented with the $100,000 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award from Claremont Graduate University on April 7.
Margo Jefferson is a professor of writing in the School of the Arts at Columbia University and a professor at the Eugene Lang College of The New School for Liberal Arts in New York. She won in the autobiography category for Negroland (Pantheon, 2015). Professor Jefferson won the Pulitzer Prize for criticism while writing for The New York Times. She is a graduate of Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, and holds a master’s degree from Columbia University.
In addition to these two academics, Paul Beatty, an African American, won the award in the fiction category for his novel The Sellout (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015).