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Michael Chabon’s “Moonglow,” Ann Patchett’s “Commonwealth” and Louise Erdrich’s “La Rose” are among the fiction finalists for the National Book Critics Circle awards for outstanding books of 2016. Wave Books of Seattle, a poetry press, published a finalist in the poetry category, “Olio” by Tyehimba Jess, and “Lab Girl,” a nonfiction finalist by Hope Jahren, has been a favorite among women in science in the Seattle area.

The finalists were chosen at a meeting of the NBCC board last weekend in New York City (disclosure: I’m a board member). Three other awards were announced. Novelist Margaret Atwood won the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award, Michelle Dean won the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing and novelist Yaa Gyasi’s debut novel “Homegoing” won for best first book in any genre.

Here are the finalists:



  • “The Iceberg” by Marion Coutts (Black Cat Press)
  • “In Gratitude” by Jenny Diski (Bloomsbury)
  • “Lab Girl” by Hope Jahren (Knopf)
  • “The Return: Fathers, Sons, and the Land in Between” by Hisham Matar (Random House)
  • “The Song Poet: A Memoir of My Father” by Kao Kalia Yang (Metropolitan Books)




  • “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City” by Matthew Desmond (Crown)
  • “Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America” by Ibram X. Kendi (Nation Books)
  • “Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right” by Jane Mayer  (Doubleday)
  •  “Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War” by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Harvard University Press)
  • “Writing to Save a Life: The Louis Till File” by John Edgar Wideman (Scribner)


  • “White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide” by Carol Anderson (Bloomsbury)
  •  “Against Everything: Essays by Mark Greif” (Pantheon)
  • “Looking for The Stranger: Albert Camus and the Life of a Literary Classic” by Alice Kaplan (University of Chicago Press)
  • “The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone” by Olivia Laing (Picador)
  • “Am I Alone Here?: Notes on Living to Read and Reading to Live” by Peter Orner (Catapult)


  • “House of Lords and Commons” by Ishion Hutchinson (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux)
  • “Olio” by Tyehimba Jess (Wave Books of Seattle)
  • “Works and Days” by Bernadette Mayer (New Directions)
  • “At the Foundling Hospital” by Robert Pinsky (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
  • “Blackacre” by Monica Youn(Graywolf Press)