Gwynne, Wiman named finalists for book awards

Austin author S.C. Gwynne
Austin author S.C. Gwynne

Austin’s S.C. “Sam” Gwynne, author of the best-selling “Empire of the Summer Moon,” has been named a finalist by the National Book Critics Circle for his Stonewall Jackson biography, “Rebel Yell.”

Christian Wiman, who grew up in West Texas, is a poetry finalist for “Once in the West.”

The 30 finalists were announced Tuesday, and will be given for the best autobiography, biography, criticism, fiction, general nonfiction and poetry of 2014.

Winners will be announced on March 12 in New York. The awards are nominated and chosen by the group’s board of 24 critics and book review editors.

Three special awards will also be given: Toni Morrison will receive the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award; Phil Klay’s story collection “Redeployment” (Penguin Press) will get the John Leonard Prize for a best first book in any genre. (Klay also won the National Book Award). And the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing will go to Alexandra Schwartz, an assistant editor at The New Yorker.

Here’s a list of the finalists.


Blake Bailey, “The Splendid Things We Planned” (W.W. Norton & Co.)

Roz Chast, “Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?” (Bloomsbury)

Lacy M. Johnson, “The Other Side” (Tin House)

Gary Shteyngart, “Little Failure” (Random House)

Meline Toumani, “There Was and There Was Not” (Metropolitan Books)


Ezra Greenspan, “William Wells Brown: An African American Life” (W.W. Norton & Co.)

S.C. Gwynne, “Rebel Yell: The Violence, Passion and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson” (Scribner)

John Lahr, “Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh” (W.W. Norton & Co.)

Ian S. MacNiven, “Literchoor Is My Beat: A Life of James Laughlin, Publisher of New Directions” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

Miriam Pawel, “The Crusades of Cesar Chavez” (Bloomsbury)


Eula Biss, “On Immunity: An Inoculation” (Graywolf Press)

Vikram Chandra, “Geek Sublime: The Beauty of Code, the Code of Beauty” (Graywolf Press)

Claudia Rankine, “Citizen: An American Lyric” (Graywolf Press)

Lynne Tillman, “What Would Lynne Tillman Do?” (Red Lemonade)

Ellen Willis, “The Essential Ellen Willis,” edited by Nona Willis Aronowitz (University of Minnesota Press)


Rabih Alameddine, “An Unnecessary Woman” (Grove Press)

Marlon James, “A Brief History of Seven Killings” (Riverhead Books)

Lily King, “Euphoria” (Atlantic Monthly Press)

Chang-rae Lee, “On Such a Full Sea” (Riverhead Books)

Marilynne Robinson, “Lila” (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)


David Brion Davis, “The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Emancipation” (Alfred A. Knopf)

Peter Finn and Petra Couvee, “The Zhivago Affair: The Kremlin, the CIA, and the Battle over a Forbidden Book” (Pantheon)

Elizabeth Kolbert, “The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History” (Henry Holt & Co.)

Thomas Piketty, “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” translated from the French by Arthur Goldhammer (Belknap Press/Harvard University Press)

Hector Tobar, “Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle that Set Them Free” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)


Saeed Jones, “Prelude to Bruise” (Coffee House Press)

Willie Perdomo, “The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon” (Penguin Books)

Claudia Rankine, “Citizen: An American Lyric” (Graywolf Press)

Christian Wiman, “Once in the West” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

Jake Adam York, “Abide” (Southern Illinois University Press)

McCracken a finalist for Story Prize

Austin writer Elizabeth McCracken is one of three finalists for the $20,000 Story Prize for her collection, “Thunderstruck.”

McCracken, who teaches at the University of Texas and the Michener Center for Writers, will be up against Francesca Marciano, author of “The Other Language,” and Lorrie Moore, author of “Bark.”

Judges for the contest are Arsen Kashkashian, a Boulder, Colorado, bookseller; Noreen Tomassi, director of the Center for Fiction; and Laura van den Berg, an author. The awards ceremony will be held at 7:30 p.m. March 4 at the New School in New York.

The winner gets $20,000, while the two runners-up get $5,000.

Austin author Elizabeth McCracken.
Austin author Elizabeth McCracken.

3 Austinites get $25,000 poetry grants

The National Endowment for the Arts has chosen three Austin poets as recipients of its 2014 grants, with each receiving $25,000.

The three are:

Susan B.A. Somers-Willett, author of two books of poetry, “Roam” and “Quiver,” as well as a book of criticism, “The Cultural Politics of Slam Poetry.” She has a doctorate in American literature from the University of Texas.

Sam Sax, a fellow in the Michener Center for Writers at UT, and the two-time Bay Area Unified Grand Slam Champion. His poems have appeared in various journals as well.

Laura Saurborn Young, a poet and teacher at the University of Texas.

They were among 36 grant recipients nationwide.