National Book Critics Circle Winners 2008

The late Chilean writer Roberto Bolano has won this year's fiction prize from the National Book Critics Circle for "2666," his complex, five-part novel about a series of murders in Mexico. And for the first time in the organization's 35-year history, the poetry prize was split between two authors, Juan Felipe Herrera for "Half the World is Light" and August Kleinzahler for "Sleeping It Off in Rapid City."

New York Times writer Dexter Filkins won the nonfiction prize for the story of his experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan: "The Forever War." After recounting some of the horrors he witnessed, he told the audience, "The strangest part is coming back to a place like Manhattan, which is so beautiful and filled with grace." His book and Kleinzahler's winning poetry collection are published by Farrar, Straus.

Seth Lerer won the criticism prize for "Children's Literature: A Reader's History from Aesop to Harry Potter." Accepting the award, Lerer said, "It is customary at moments like this to thank all the little people. In my case, the little people are imps, gnomes, and elves that pepper the imagination of children and adults."

Patrick French wasn't able to attend the ceremony, but his authorized biography of V.S. Naipaul, "The World Is What It Is," won the biography prize, one of two given to Knopf this evening.

The autobiography prize went to Ariel Sabar for "My Father's Paradise: A Son's Search for His Jewish Past in Kurdish Iraq."

The NBCC's Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to the PEN American Center in recognition of the organization's work in prisons and schools and its support for freedom of expression around the world.

About 500 people attended the NBCC's 35th annual ceremony in New York Thursday night. The nonprofit organization of American critics has about 700 members.

By Ron Charles |  March 13, 2009; 10:38 AM ET Ron Charles
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

And the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing went to...? You seem to have left something out!

Posted by: Laura29 | March 13, 2009 12:33 PM

Congratulations on your award. I miss reading your columns in The Christian Science Monitor.

Posted by: Lynn20 | March 13, 2009 3:10 PM

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