Anthony Vesna So’s short-story collection “Afterparties,” which focuses on the lives of Cambodian Americans in California, won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Best First Book on Thursday.
While dark and funny, “AfterParties” explores the ways in which the trauma suffered by Cambodian refugees fleeing the Khmer Rouge genocide has resonated across generations.
The collection, which was widely acclaimed, was published nearly eight months after Soe died at the age of 28 from a drug overdose.
In a statement, one of the judges, Jenny Shank, praised Soe’s “vigor, originality and good humour” and said that the organization “involves Soo’s loved ones and readers in celebrating his work and mourning his loss.” Is.”
Other winners, which were announced at a virtual ceremony Thursday night, include Diane Seuss, who won the Poetry Prize for her collection “Frank: Sonnets”; Melissa Fabos, who won the Criticism Award for “Girlhood”; Jeremy Atherton Lynn, who received the Autobiography Award for “Gay Bar: Why We Went Out”; and Rebecca Donner, who won the Biography Award for “All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days: The True Story of the American Woman at the Heart of the German Resistance to Hitler.”
“The Love Songs of Webb du Bois”, a novel by Honoree Fanon Jeffers, which explores class, colorism, and privilege through the story of a young black woman growing up in Georgia in the late 20th century, and her ancestors The story won Story Award. The prize for non-fiction went to Clint Smith’s “How the Word Is Passed”, which examines how America has memorialized and distorted the legacy of slavery.
Along with the National Book Awards and the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Awards are among the most prestigious literary awards in the United States. Established in 1974, the National Book Critics Circle is made up of more than 600 literary critics and book review editors in the United States.
The NBCC Awards differ from other awards in that the recipients are chosen by book reviewers rather than committees made up of authors or academics. The organization’s annual awards, which usually occur in the spring for works published in the previous year, are open to books published in English in the United States.
This was the third year the awards were presented virtually, a reminder of the long time that the pandemic has taken over live literary events.
In addition to awards for singles titles, NBCC offers awards for ongoing work and lifetime achievement awards.
Merv Emre, a contributing author at The New Yorker and an associate professor at the University of Oxford, received the 2021 Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Review, an award given to an NBCC member for significant work.
The Toni Morrison Achievement Award, a new award created by NBCC to honor the institutions that have shaped book culture in 2021, was presented to the Kew Canum Foundation, the author’s center that has helped nurture the careers of renowned black poets .
The Evan Sandroff Lifetime Achievement Award was given to novelist Percival Everett, who has published more than 30 novels and collections of stories and poems. In a citation, the chairman of the awards committee, Jacob Appel, praised Everett as “profound and exuberant”.
“He is brilliant over and over again, novel after novel, story after story, each successively more original and evocative,” Appel said. “There are two types of readers in America: those who are reading Percival Everett and those who are missing.”