Women Academics Named Finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Awards

The finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Awards have been announced. There are 30 finalists, five in each of six categories including fiction, nonfiction, autobiography, biography, criticism, and poetry. The winners of the National Book Critics Awards will be presented in New York City on March 8.

Among the 30 finalists are books by 14 women. Nine of the 14 women finalists have affiliations with higher education.

(L to R) Dana Spiotta, Amanda Foreman, Maya Jasanoff, Diane Ackerman, Deb Olin Unferth, Dubravka Ugresic, Ellen Willis, Aracelis Girmay, and Laura Kasischke

Dana Spiotta, an assistant professor of English at Syracuse University, is a finalist for her novel, Stone Arabia. The book is about a middle-age rock musician who never made the big time and his relationships with his mother and sister.

She has published two other novels, Lightning Field (Scribner, 2001) and Eat the Document (Scribner, 2006).

Amanda Foreman is a finalist in the nonfiction category for her book, A World on Fire: Britain’s Crucial Role in the American Civil War. Dr. Foreman is a senior research fellow at the University of London. An earlier book was the bestseller Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire. Foreman is the daughter of Carl Foreman, the screenwriter of such films as Bridge on the River Kwai and High Noon.

Dr. Foreman was born in London but grew up in Los Angeles. She is a graduate Sarah Lawrence College and holds a Ph.D. in eighteenth-century British history from Oxford University.

Maya Jasanoff is a professor of history at Harvard University. She is a finalist in the nonfiction category for her book Liberty’s Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary War. An earlier book was Edge of Empire: Lives, Culture, and Conquest in the East, 1750-1850.

Dr. Jasanoff is a 1996 graduate of Harvard University. She earned a master’s degree at Oxford University and a Ph.D. at Yale University.

Diane Ackerman is a finalist in the autobiographical category for her book, One Hundred Names for Love: A Stroke, a Marriage, and the Language of Healing.

Dr. Ackerman has taught Columbia University and Cornell University. A graduate of Pennsylvania State University, she earned a master’s degree, a master of fine arts degree, and a Ph.D. from Cornell University She is the author of more than two dozen works of nonfiction and poetry including the very popular book, A Natural History of the Senses.

Deb Olin Unferth is also a finalist in autobiography. Her book is entitled, Revolution: The Year I Fell in Love and Went to Join the War. She and her finance spent time in Central America in the late 1980s and were involved in several revolutionary movements.

Unferth is an assistant professor of English at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. She is a graduate of the University of Colorado and holds a master of fine arts degree from Syracuse University.

Dubravka Ugresic is nominated in the criticism category for her book Karaoke Culture. The book contains a series of essays on pop culture.

A native of Croatia, Ugresic is a graduate of Zagreb University. She served for 20 years on the faculty of the Institute for Theory of Literature at the University of Zagreb and lectures at colleges and universities throughout Europe and the United States.

Ellen WillisOut of the Vinyl Deeps; Ellen Willis on Rock Music is a finalist in the criticism category. Willis died in 2006. At the time she was a professor of journalism and director of the Center for Cultural Reporting and Criticism at New York University.

A graduate of Barnard College, Willis did graduate study at the University of California at Berkeley. She was a political essayist and rock music critic for publications such Rolling Stone, The Village Voice and The New Yorker.

Aracelis Girmay is a finalist in the poetry category for her book Kingdom Animalia. She is an assistant professor of poetry at Hampshire College in Massachusetts.

Professor Girmay is a graduate of Connecticut College and earned a master of fine arts degree in poetry from New York University. She has also taught at Queens College and Drew University.

Laura Kasischke, a professor of English at the University of Michigan, is being honored for her book of poetry, Space in Chains. She is the author of eight collections of poetry and eight novels.

She attended the University of Michigan and Columbia University.

Update: Maya Jasanoff and Laura Kasischke were chosen as winners of National Book Critics Circle Awards on March 8 in New York City.

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