Sorry, Thomas Pynchon (wherever you are). Maybe next time, National Book Award-winner Richard Powers.
The National Book Critics Circle, the nationwide organization of more than 500 book critics, editors and reviewers, announced finalists in six categories for its 2006 book awards this past weekend, and neither highly honored novelist made the cut.
Among the fiction nominees are the Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie for Half of a Yellow Sun (Knopf), Man/Booker winner Kiran Desai for The Inheritance of Loss (Grove/Atlantic), and Dave Eggers for What Is the What (McSweeney's).
Veteran novelists Richard Ford (The Lay of the Land), and Cormac McCarthy (The Road), both published by Knopf, round out the fiction list.
Swarthmore graduate and longtime Philadelphia poet Daisy Fried received her first NBCC nomination in poetry for My Brother Is Getting Arrested Again
(University of Pittsburgh Press).
The other finalists are:
Patrick Cockburn, The Occupation: War and Resistance in Iraq (Verso)
Ann Fessler, The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade (Penguin)
Michael Pollan, The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals (Penguin)
Simon Schama, Rough Crossings: Britain, the Slaves and the American Revolution (Ecco)
Sandy Tolan, The Lemon Tree: An Arab, a Jew and the Heart of the Middle East (Bloomsbury)
Donald Antrim, The Afterlife (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
Alison Bechdel, Fun Home (Houghton Mifflin)
Alexander Masters, Stuart: A Life Backwards (Delacorte)
Daniel Mendelsohn, The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million (HarperCollins)
Terri Jentz, Strange Piece of Paradise (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
Troy Jollimore, Tom Thomson in Purgatory (Margie/Intuit House)
Miltos Sachtouris, Poems (1945-1971) (Archipelago Books)
Frederick Seidel, Ooga-Booga: Poems (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
W.D. Snodgrass, Not for Specialists: New and Selected Poems (BOA Editions)
Bruce Bawer, While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam Is Destroying the West From Within (Doubleday)
Frederick Crews, Follies of the Wise: Dissenting Essays (Shoemaker & Hoard)
Daniel Dennett, Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon (Viking)
Lia Purpura, On Looking: Essays (Sarabande Books)
Lawrence Weschler, Everything That Rises: A Book of Convergences (McSweeney's)
Debby Applegate, The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher (Doubleday)
Taylor Branch, At Canaan's Edge: America in the King Years, 1965-1968 (Simon & Schuster)
Frederick Brown, Flaubert: A Biography (Little, Brown)
Julie Phillips, James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon (St. Martin's Press)
Jason Roberts, A Sense of the World: How a Blind Man Became History's Greatest Traveler (HarperCollins)
The NBCC announced that this year's Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award for contributions to the world of publishing and literature will go to John Leonard, book critic, essayist, author and former editor of the New York Times Book Review.
The Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing went to Steven G. Kellman, a professor of comparative literature at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Finalists for the Balakian were Ron Charles, Kathryn Harrison, Gideon Lewis-Kraus and Donna Rifkind.
The winners in the book categories will be announced on March 8 at the NBCC's annual awards ceremony at New School University in New York.
Carlin Romano is a former president of the NBCC and current chair of its "Critical Issues" Committee.