Lorrie Moore Wins Fiction Prize, Judy Blume Honored at National Book Critics Circle Awards

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In a New York soiree reverberating with the spirit of literature, celebrated master of the written word Lorrie Moore has won the accolade of the prestigious Fiction Prize. The award was conferred upon her by the National Book Critics Circle during a resplendent Thursday evening ceremony at the New School. Moore, an luminary celebrated primarily for her arresting gift for birthing memorable short stories, clinched this honor for the latest addition to her works, her profound novel “I Am Homeless if This is Not My Home”.

Offering insight into the essence of Moore’s creation, Committee Chair David Varno revealed that, beneath the layered text lies a paradoxical tale, both delightfully comical yet searing with raw emotion; a ghost story vividly exploring the boundaries of humanity in a world steeped in what Moore intriguingly coins as ‘voluntary insanity.’

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Meanwhile, Judy Blume, a cornerstone of literature and a fervent combatant against literary censorship, was recognized next to her stalwart comrade in this crusade, the American Library Association. Blume and the Association were both bestowed with honorary awards for their relentless advocacy for literature and steadfast resistance against book bans.

Blume’s tribute was the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award, a nod to her lifetime spent delicately unraveling the trials and tribulations of adolescence in her evocative novels such as “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret”, enchanting her readers with unflinching authenticity and courage.

Saluting the steadfast American Library Association, they were honored with the Toni Morrison Achievement Award. The Association was eulogized for their enduring commitment to equity, tireless campaigns against library segregation, and ceaseless support for the integration of LGBT+ literature and their resolute defense of literature against the regressive supporters of book bans.

Blume, albeit remotely from her bookstore tucked away in Key West, Florida, graciously acknowledged her award and expressed heartfelt gratitude to the ALA for their relentless efforts to protect our intellectual freedoms.

The ceremony saw a medley of other acclaimed writers receive recognition for their literary prowess. The autobiography prize was taken by poet Safiya Sinclair for her touching memoir “How to Say Babylon”, which gives an unvarnished account of her Jamaican childhood under a stern Rastafarian regime. Likewise, the accolade for the biography was scooped by Jonny Steinberg for his intimate portrayal of Nelson and Winnie Mandela in his book, “Winnie and Nelson: Portrait of a Marriage”.

Kim Hyesoon of South Korea bagged the Poetry Award for her soul-stirring composition “Phantom Pain Wings”, while the Translation award, honoring both the translator and the book, was picked up by Maureen Freely for her masterful rendition of Tezer Özlü’s “Cold Nights of Childhood”, originally penned in Turkish.

The John Leonard Prize for Best First Book was won by Tahir Hamut Izgil for his poignant memoir from China’s genocide in “Waiting to Be Arrested at Night: : A Uyghur Poet’s Memoir of China’s Genocide”. Tina Post swept the Criticism Prize for her insightful exploration in “Deadpan: The Aesthetics of Black Inexpression.” On the other hand, the Nonfiction Award fell to Roxanna Asgarian for her shattering tale of love, death and child removal in America in “We Were Once a Family”.

The evening was aglow with honorary awards as well, with Washington Post critic Becca Rothfield being praised for her excellence in reviewing and Marion Winik of NPR’s “All Things Considered” receiving recognition for her invaluable service to the literary community.

The National Book Critics Circle, established in 1974, is an esteemed consortium of reviewers and editors from across the nation, united by their shared love for literature. Their awards are not just accolades, but a celebration of the vibrancy and richness of literature that continues to inspire, challenge and change the world.