All Must Have Prizes

I am delighted to learn that Richard Holmes’s The Age of Wonder, his lively and deeply intelligent study of the pursuit of science in the Romantic era, has been awarded the 2009 National Book Critics Circle Award for General Nonfiction. You can read our review of the book, by Dava Sobel, here, and my extended interview with Holmes here.


Three other books reviewed on these web pages were also winners:

Autobiography: Somewhere Towards the End by Diana Athill. Reviewed by Anna Mundow.

Biography: Cheever: A Life by Blake Bailey. Reviewed by Maud Newton.

Fiction: Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. Reviewed by Anna Mundow.


Other winners were:

Criticism: Notes from No Man’s Land: American Essays by Eula Bliss.

Poetry: Versed by Rae Armantrout.


Joan Acocella was awarded the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing.



April 23: " 'A job,' the woman repeated again, smiling, as if I hadn't heard her. 'Would you like one?' "

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.

The Promise of Hope

Killed last year in the infamous terror attack at Nairobi's Westgate mall, Kofi Awoonor was a national treasure in his native Ghana.  His career began in 1964 with Rediscovery, and this magnum opus serves as a tribute to his entire long journey charting his beloved nation's course through his accomplished poetry.

Winter Mythologies and Abbots

A pair of linked stories finds that, as translator Ann Jefferson relates, "[Pierre] Michon's great theme is the precarious balance between belief and imposture, and the way the greatest aspirations can be complicated by physical desire or the equally urgent desire for what he calls glory."