- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 14, 2003

Robert Caro's "Master of the Senate," winner of the National Book Award, is among the nonfiction finalists announced yesterday for the National Book Critics Circle prize.
Also nominated was William Langewiesche's controversial "American Ground: Unbuilding the World Trade Center," which accuses firefighters of looting ground zero after the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Reversing the usual trend, the critics' picks were better known than last November's National Book Awards, which are voted on by fellow writers. Such notable works as Jeffrey Eugenides' novel, "Middlesex," and Edmund Morgan's biography of Benjamin Franklin, overlooked for the NBAs, are finalists for the book critic awards.
"Critics love nothing more than to discover a book no one else seems to know about, but when we're deciding on the final nominees, it doesn't matter how popular the book is," said NBCC president Elizabeth Taylor, Chicago Tribune literary editor.
Also nominated for general nonfiction were Chris Hedges' "War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning," Samantha Power's "A Problem From Hell," Richard Rodriguez's "Brown: The Last Discovery of America" and "Gaby Wood's "Edison's Eve: A Magical History of the Quest for Mechanical Life."
Besides "Middlesex," fiction nominees include Ian McEwan's best selling "Atonement," William Kennedy's "Roscoe," Alexander Hemon's "Nowhere Man" and Edith Templeton's "The Darts of Cupid and Other Stories."
Mr. Caro, whose "Master of the Senate" is the latest volume in his biography of Lyndon Baines Johnson, and Mr. Morgan were nominated for biography/autobiography. Other finalists include Janet Browne for "Charles Darwin: The Power of Place, Vol. II," Elizabeth Gilbert's "The Last American Man" and Mark Zwonitzer, with Charles Hirshberg, "Will You Miss Me When I'm Gone? The Carter Family and Their Legacy in American Music."
In poetry, the nominees are Major Jackson's "Leaving Saturn," B.H. Fairchild, "Early Occult Memory Systems of the Lower Midwest," Harryette Mullen, "Sleeping With the Dictionary," Sharon Olds, "The Unswept Room" and Adam Zagajewski, "Without End: New and Selected Poems."
William Gass, a two-time NBCC winner for criticism, was nominated for his essay collection, "Tests of Time." Other criticism finalists are Philip Ball's "Bright Earth," Julia Blackburn's "Old Man Goya," Christopher Ricks' "Reviewery" and Charles Rosen's "Piano Notes."
Richard Howard, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet who has also translated more than 150 books, notably Stendhal's "The Charterhouse of Parma," will receive a lifetime achievement award. Maureen N. McLane, a junior fellow in English literature at Harvard's Society of Fellows, will receive a special prize for criticism.

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