The National Book Critics Circle announced its award winners last night and race was at the center – in two of the big books that won, and one that did not. Margo Jefferson, the former New York Times critic, won in the memoir category for her widely acclaimed book Negroland, about growing up as part of Chicago’s close-knit, affluent African-American elite in the 1950s and 1960s.
In the fiction category, Paul Beatty won for The Sellout, a darkly comic novel about race relations in modern Southern California; slavery; segregation; and a blockbuster Supreme Court case.
Missing from the awards list was Ta-Nehisi Coates’s bestselling Between the World and Me, a finalist in criticism, which lost to Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts, a memoir of love, sexuality, marriage, and gender fluidity.
The non-fiction prize went to Dreamland: The True Story of America’s Opiate Epidemic, by Sam Quinones, and the biography award went to Charlotte Gordon's Romantic Outlaws: The Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Her Daughter Mary Shelley.
The whole list is here.