NEW YORK – Hanore Fanon Jeffers’ “WEB Du Bois Love Songs”, her epic novel about racism, resilience and identity, named after an influential black scholar and activist, won the National Circle of Critics Award for Fiction.
Critics praised Jeffers for “putting several centuries of ancestral” songs “into her story of the brilliant Atlantean scholar’s adulthood and youth.” Jeffers, a professor of English at the University of Oklahoma and author of five poetry collections, was among the winners announced Thursday during a ceremony held online over the coronavirus pandemic.
In the category of journalistic award was awarded to Clint Smith’s film “How the word is conveyed: a mention of the history of slavery in America.” The biography was won by Rebecca Donner’s painting “All the Frequent Troubles of Today: The True Story of an American Woman at the Center of German Resistance to Hitler”, and the best autobiography was “Jeremy Atherton Lynn’s” Gay Bar: Why We Went Out “. . Diana Seuss’s Frank: Sanettes won the poetry award, and Melissa Phoebus’s The Maiden received the Critics’ Award.
Anthony Veasna Yes, the highly respected author, who died suddenly in 2020 at the age of 28, received posthumous praise on Thursday. His collection of short stories “Afterparties” was awarded the John Leonard Prize for Best First Book. Leonard, a founding member of the NBCC who died in 2008, was known for his support of budding writers.
The first prize for the achievements of Tony Morrison, founded last year in honor of the late Nobel laureate and awarded to “institutions that have made a lasting and significant contribution to book culture”, was awarded to the Cave Canem Foundation. The self-determined “House for Black Poetry,” founded in 1996 by Toi Derrick and Cornelius Idi, the foundation helped support laureate poets such as Claudia Rankin and Tracy K. Smith.
Writer Percival Everett, whose books include meta-fiction such as Erasure and The History of the African American People, received the Ivan Sandroff Lifetime Achievement Award, named after the first president of the circle of critics. A quote from Nona Balakyan for outstanding reviews, named after the late critic and co-founder of the NBCC, was received by New Yorker contributor Merve Emre.
The NBCC was founded in 1974 and includes hundreds of “critics, authors, literary bloggers, book publishing professionals, students and friends”.