Jeffrey Eugenides
Credit: Ricardo Barros

The National Book Critics Circle announced the nominees for its 2011 book awards over the weekend, and there were a few surprises. Critical darlings and major 2011 breakouts like Chad Harbach, Téa Obreht, and Karen Russell were not named as finalists in the fiction category. Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Marriage Plot, which wasn’t a National Book Award finalist and didn’t make The New York Times‘ 10 Best Books of 2011 list, is now the NBCC’s headline nominee. But the dark horse to win fiction might just be Stone Arabia by Dana Spiotta, whose rock-tinged novel calls to mind the very different but similarly hip A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan, last year’s NBCC winner who went on to win the Pulitzer.

See below for a full list of nominees:


Teju Cole, Open City

Jeffrey Eugenides, The Marriage Plot

Alan Hollinghurst, Stranger’s Child

Edith Pearlman, Binocular Vision

Dana Spiotta, Stone Arabia


Amanda Foreman, A World on Fire

James Gleick, The Information

Adam Hochschild, To End All Wars

Maya Jasanoff, Liberty’s Exiles

John Jeremiah Sullivan, Pulphead


Diana Ackerman, One Hundred Names for Love

Mira Bartok, Memory Palace

Luis Rodriguez, It Calls You Back

Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts, Harlem Is Nowhere

Deb Olin Unferth, Revolution


Mary Gabriel, Love and Capital

John Lewis Gaddis, George F. Kennan

Paul Hendrickson, Hemingway’s Boat

Manning Marable, Malcolm X

Ezra Vogel, Deng Xiaoping


David Bellos, Is That a Fish in Your Ear

Geoff Dyer, Otherwise Known as the Human Condition

Jonathan Lethem, The Ecstasy of Influence

Dubravka Ugresic, Karaoke Culture

Ellen Willis, Out of the Vinyl Deeps


Forrest Gander, Core Samples…

Aracelis Girmay, Kingdom Animalia

Laura Kasischke, Space, In Chains

Yusef Komunyakaa, The Chameleon Couch

Bruce Smith, Devotions