- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 29, 2002

NEW YORK — The author himself may not be that popular in certain circles, but acclaim for Jonathan Franzen's "The Corrections" continues. Mr. Franzen's novel about an unhappy Midwestern family is a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle prize.
Among other nominations announced yesterday are a poetry collection by 90-year-old Nobel laureate Czeslaw Milosz, essays by Martin Amis and a novel by W.G. Sebald, a highly regarded German writer who was killed in a car crash late last year.
Two of 2001's most notable biographies, David McCullough's "John Adams" and Edmund Morris' "Theodore Rex," were not cited.
Mr. Franzen is already a National Book Award winner. The critics' nomination reinforces the author's place in what he calls "the high-art literary tradition," and should help "The Corrections" outlast the notoriety from his falling out with Oprah Winfrey. The talk-show host chose his novel in September for her book club, but canceled the traditional author dinner after he made a series of disparaging remarks.
The wrath of Miss Winfrey apparently did not hurt Mr. Franzen commercially, and may even have helped. Sales for "The Corrections" are nearing the 1 million mark an enormous number for literary fiction.
Mr. Franzen joins a strong list of fiction finalists. Besides "The Corrections," nominees include Sebald's "Austerlitz," Ann Patchett's "Bel Canto," Colson Whitehead's celebrated "John Henry Days," and "Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage," the latest collection from the revered short story writer Alice Munro.
Paula Fox, whose books Mr. Franzen helped bring back in print, is a finalist for her memoir, "Borrowed Finery." Other nominees include Barry Werth's "The Scarlet Professor," Adam Sisman's "Boswell's Presumptuous Task," David Hajdu's "Positively Fourth Street" and "Milking the Moon," by Eugene Walter, as told to Katherine Clark.
Mr. Walter, an award-winning writer and translator, died in 1998.
Nominees for general nonfiction include "Seabiscuit," Laura Hillenbrand's best seller about the famous race horse; Sam Roberts' "The Brother"; Nina Bernstein's "The Lost Children of Wilder"; and "Double Fold," by Nicholson Baker.
Also cited was "Neighbors," by Polish emigre historian Jan Gross. Some Poles have disputed Mr. Gross' account of a 1941 massacre, in which as many as 1,600 Jews were burned alive, saying that the Nazis were responsible. "Neighbors" supports the view that Poles were to blame.
Besides Mr. Milosz, nominated for "A Treatise on Poetry," poetry finalists are Albert Goldbarth, "Saving Lives"; Louise Gluck, "The Seven Ages"; Jane Hirshfield, "Given Sugar, Given Salt"; and Bob Hicok, "Animal Soul."
Mr. Amis is a finalist in the criticism category. Other nominees are W.D. Snodgrass, "De/Compositions"; Joy Williams, "Ill Nature"; Rebecca Solnit, "As Eve Said to the Serpent"; and H.J. Jackson, "Marginalia."
The winners will be announced March 11.

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