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National Book Critics Circle Awards go to 'Billy Lynn,' 'Far From the Tree'

The National Book Critics Circle honored works such as 'Far From the Tree' by Andrew Solomon and 'The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson' by Robert Caro during their 2012 awards ceremony.

By Staff Writer / March 1, 2013

'Far From the Tree' by Andrew Solomon and 'Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk' by Ben Fountain won the NBCC nonfiction and fiction prizes, respectively.

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The National Book Critics Circle awarded its top prizes for 2012 to already well-received works such as “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” by Ben Fountain and “The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson” by Robert Caro.

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Fountain’s novel won the fiction award for the NBCC, while Caro’s work picked up the biography prize and Andrew Solomon’s book “Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity.”

The NBCC's 2012 poetry award went to D.A. Powell’s work “Useless Landscape, or A Guide for Boys.” The criticism award went to author Marina Warner for her book “Stranger Magic: Charmed States and the Arabian Nights.” “Swimming Studies” by Leanne Shapton won the autobiography prize.

Monitor fiction critic Yvonne Zipp called “Billy Lynn” an “absurdist portrait of the war and modern society painted with brush strokes laid as precisely and as viciously as a whip.”

“Having been away for months, Lynn returns to his own homeland as a stranger, and the dissonance is both uncomfortable and revealing,” Zipp notes.

“The Passage of Power,” meanwhile, demonstrates that “Caro long ago mastered his subject – Johnson and power,” according to Monitor reviewer Erik Spanberg.

“With characteristic detail and precision, Caro frames the assassination from Johnson’s vantage point, providing a horrifying, pulse-pounding account of what it was like for a humbled man – even one as ambitious and power-hungry as LBJ – to shoulder the grief and burden of an entire nation,” Spanberg wrote.

William Deresiewicz, critic, blogger, and author of "A Jane Austen Education," was awarded the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing, while the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award went to Susan Gubar and Sandra Gilbert.

The prizes were given out in the Tishman Auditorium at New York’s New School.

The nonfiction prize for last year went to Maya Jasanoff’s work “Liberty’s Exiles,” while the fiction award was given to Edith Pearlman’s short story collection “Binocular Vision.”

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