Amid rumors about Post book section, their critic wins a prize

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Will the Washington Post be the next paper to shut down its book section? The rumor's been heard from many sources over the past few days.

But even as speculation about the future of the Post's venerable Book World continues, the paper's fiction critic, Ron Charles, was awarded the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing, the most prestigious award for book criticism in the country, by the National Book Critics Circle.

That's especially heartening news to us at the Monitor because Ron was book editor here and we know how fully he deserves the award. For seven years his fiction reviews appeared weekly in our pages. We occasionally still reprint them under the heading of "classic reviews" and even years later the humor and acuity of his writing elicits attention and response.

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Ron's award was announced at a dinner in New York City last night, where the NBCC also listed the finalists for its 2008 awards. (Winners will be announced on March 12.)

The NBCC finalists included:

Fiction
Roberto Bolaño,  for "2666"

Marilynne Robinson, for "Home" (the Monitor review appeared on 9/9/08)

Aleksandar Hemon, for "The Lazarus Project"

M. Glenn Talyor,  for "The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart"

Elizabeth Strout, for "Olive Kitteridge" (Monitor review, 5/16/08)

Biography
Paula J. Giddings, for "Ida, A Sword Among Lions: Ida B. Wells and the Campaign Against Lynching"

Steve Coll, for "The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in an American Century" (Monitor review, 4/1/08)

Patrick. French, for "The World Is What It Is: The Authorized Biography of V.S. Naipaul"

Annette Gordon-Reed, for "The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family"

Brenda Wineapple, for "White Heat: The Friendship of Emily Dickinson & Thomas Wentworth Higginson" (Monitor review 8/16/08)

Autobiography
Rick Bass, for "Why I Came West" (Monitor review, 71/5/08)

Helene Cooper, for "The House on Sugar Beach" (Monitor review, 9/2/08)

Honor Moore, for "The Bishop’s Daughter"

Andrew X. Pham, for "The Eaves of Heaven"

Ariel Sabar, for "My Father's Paradise: A Son's Search for His Jewish Past in Kurdish Iraq" (Monitor review, 9/15/08)

Nonfiction
Dexter Filkins, for "The Forever War" (Monitor review, 10/10/08)

Drew Gilpin Faust, for "This Republic of Suffering: Death and the Civil War" (Monitor review, 1/29/08)

Jane Mayer, for "The Dark Side"

Allan Lichtman, for "White Protestant Nation"

George C. Herring, for "From Colony to Superpower: U.S. Foreign Relations Since 1776" (Monitor review, 1/22/08)

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