In case you haven't seen this elsewhere, here are the finalists – in all categories – for the National Book Critics Circle Award:
Diana Athill, Somewhere Towards the End (Norton)
Debra Gwartney, Live Through This: A Mother's Memoir of Runaway Daughters and Reclaimed Love (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Mary Karr, Lit (Harper)
Kati Marton, Enemies of the People: My Family's Journey to America (Simon & Schuster)
Edmund White, City Boy, Bloomsbury
Blake Bailey, Cheever: A Life (Knopf)
Brad Gooch, Flannery: A Life of Flannery O'Connor (Little, Brown)
Benjamin Moser, Why This World: A Biography of Clarice Lispector (Oxford University Press)
Stanislao G. Pugliese, Bitter Spring: A Life of Ignazio Silone (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Martha A. Sandweiss, Passing Strange: A Gilded Age Tale of Love and Deception Across the Color Line (Penguin Press)
Eula Biss, Notes From No Man's Land: American Essays (Graywolf Press)
Stephen Burt, Close Calls with Nonsense: Reading New Poetry (Graywolf Press)
Morris Dickstein, Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression (Norton)
David Hajdu, Heroes and Villains: Essays on Music, Movies, Comics, and Culture (Da Capo Press)
Greg Milner, Perfecting Sound Forever: An Aural History of Recorded Music (Faber)
Bonnie Jo Campbell, American Salvage (Wayne State University Press)
Marlon James, The Book of Night Women (Riverhead)
Michelle Huneven, Blame (Sarah Crichton Books/FSG)
Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall (Holt)
Jayne Anne Phillips, Lark and Termite (Knopf)
Wendy Doniger, The Hindus: An Alternative History (Penguin Press)
Greg Grandin, Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford's Forgotten Jungle City (Metropolitan Books)
Richard Holmes, The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science (Pantheon)
Tracy Kidder, Strength in What Remain (Random House)
William T. Vollmann, Imperial (Viking)
Rae Armantrout, Versed (Wesleyan)
Louise Glück, A Village Life (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
D.A. Powell, Chronic (Graywolf Press)
Eleanor Ross Taylor, Captive Voices: New and Selected Poems, 1960–2008 (Louisiana State University Press)
Rachel Zucker, Museum of Accidents (Wave Books)
Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing
Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award:
*Joyce Carol Oates
*Booyah! It's high time.
Wish I had time to read all these then make my own educated guesses as to the winners. Ah, for that kind of time.
I didn't get to vote on the finalists this year; I'd let my membership lapse and didn't rejoin 'til after all that happened. But that's okay. I didn't read nearly as much as usual last year, anyway. In fact, Lark & Termite is the only book on this list I've read. I loved it, but I think Hilary Mantel will edge it out. Just a hunch based on its stellar reviews and what I know of Mantel and the plot of this book.
I could make semi-educated guesses, based on reviews and personal feelings about each "winner," but I'm too unfamiliar with them this time around. I've often guessed the Man Booker for fiction, but I'm not feeling lucky at present.
Maybe next year.