Annal: 2007 National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography

Results of the National Book Critics Circle Award in the year 2007.

Book:Brother, I'm Dying

Brother, I'm Dying

Edwidge Danticat

From the age of four, Edwidge Danticat came to think of her uncle Joseph, a charismatic pastor, as her “second father,” when she was placed in his care after her parents left Haiti for a better life in America. Listening to his sermons, sharing coconut-flavored ices on their walks through town, roaming through the house that held together many members of a colorful extended family, Edwidge grew profoundly attached to Joseph. He was the man who “knew all the verses for love.”

And so she experiences a jumble of emotions when, at twelve, she joins her parents in New York City. She is at last reunited with her two youngest brothers, and with her mother and father, whom she has struggled to remember. But she must also leave behind Joseph and the only home she’s ever known.

Told with tremendous feeling, this is a true-life epic on an intimate scale: a deeply affecting story of home and family—of two men’s lives and deaths, and of a daughter’s great love for them both.

Book:Heart Like Water

Heart Like Water: Surviving Katrina and Life in Its Disaster Zone

Joshua Clark

Try it. Right now. Picture the lights going off in the room you’re sitting in. The computer, the air conditioning, phones, everything. Then the people, every last person in your building, on the street outside, the entire neighborhood, vanished. With them go all noises: chitchat, coughs, cars, and that wordless, almost impalpable hum of a city. And animals: no dogs, no birds, not even a cricket’s legs rubbing together, not even a smell. Now bump it up to 95 degrees. Turn your radio on and listen to 80 percent of your city drowning. You’re almost there. Only twenty-eight days to go.

Joshua Clark never left New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, choosing instead to band together with fellow holdouts in the French Quarter, pooling resources and volunteering energy in an effort to save the city they loved. When Katrina hit, Clark, a key correspondent for National Public Radio during the storm, immediately began to record hundreds of hours of conversations with…[more]

Book:The Journal of Joyce Carol Oates

The Journal of Joyce Carol Oates: 1973-1982

Joyce Carol Oates

On New Year’s Day, 1973, Joyce Carol Oates began keeping a journal that she maintains to this present day. When the journals began, 34–year–old Oates was already a recipient of the National Book Award (1969), with many O. Henry awards, and others, under her literary belt. For all her warm critical reception, however, the author had been (and would remain) fairly reticent about the personal details of her life and background.

Housed in her archive at Syracuse University, the journals run to more than 5,000 single–spaced typewritten pages. This volume focuses on excerpts from that first decade, 1973–1983, one of the most productive of Oates’s long career. Far more than a daily account of her writing life, the journals offer a candid discussion of Oates’ many friendships with other well–known writers—Philip Roth, Anne Sexton, John Updike, and many others; she describes her teaching, her relationship to the natural world, her family, her vast reading, her critics, her travels, and other topics central to her life during this time.

Book:Russian Diary

Russian Diary: A Journalist's Final Account of Life, Corruption and Death in Putin's Russia

Anna Politkovskaya

Anna Politkovskaya, one of Russia’s most fearless journalists, was gunned down in a contract killing in Moscow in the fall of 2006. Just before her death, Politkovskaya completed this searing, intimate record of life in Russia from the parliamentary elections of December 2003 to the grim summer of 2005, when the nation was still reeling from the horrors of the Beslan school siege. In A Russian Diary, Politkovskaya dares to tell the truth about the devastation of Russia under Vladimir Putin–a truth all the more urgent since her tragic death.

Writing with unflinching clarity, Politkovskaya depicts a society strangled by cynicism and corruption. As the Russian elections draw near, Politkovskaya describes how Putin neutralizes or jails his opponents, muzzles the press, shamelessly lies to the public–and then secures a sham landslide that plunges the populace into mass depression. In Moscow, oligarchs blow thousands…[more]

Book:Writing in an Age of Silence

Writing in an Age of Silence

Sara Paretsky

A revelatory exploration of the writer’s art, by the bestselling author of the V. I. Warshawski novels.

In this powerful new book, Sara Paretsky explores the traditions of political and literary dissent that have informed her life and work, against the unparalleled repression of free speech and thought in the USA today. In tracing the writer’s difficult journey from silence to speech, she turns to her childhood and youth in rural Kansas, and brilliantly evokes Chicago——the city with which she has become indelibly associated——from her arrival during the civil-rights struggle in the mid-1960s to her most extraordinary literary creation, the south-side detective V. I. Warshawski. Paretsky traces the emergence of V. I. Warshawski from the shadows of the loner detectives that stalk the mean streets of Dashiell Hammett’s and Raymond Chandler’s novels, and in the process explores American individualism, the failure of the American dream, and the resulting dystopia. Both memoir and meditation, Writing in an Age of Silence is a compelling exploration of the writer’s art and daunting responsibility in the face of the assault on US civil liberties post-9/11.

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