The winners of the 2023 NBCC Awards will be announced at a ceremony on March 21, 2024, at The New School Auditorium in New York.
By Helena Olori
Nigerian-American award-winning writer, Teju Cole’s Tremor, and Senegalese-born author, Marie Ndiaye’s Vengeance is Mine, have been shortlisted as finalists for the 2023 NBCC Award for Fiction.
Cole’s Tremor published by Penguin Random House in 2023, is his third novel and latest offering since his highly acclaimed Open City released in 2011. It paints a vivid picture of Tunde, a West African teacher of photography at a renowned New England campus through whose eyes readers experience a weekend of antiquing marred by colonial atrocities, encounters with racism, and tensions in marriage. Tremors explores Tunde’s perspectives on literature, music, race, and history.
Ndiaye’s Vengeance Is Mine originally written in French and translated by Jordan Stump and published by Knopf, follows the story of Maître Susane, a middle-aged lawyer in Bordeaux, who faces upheaval when Gilles Principaux seeks her help in defending his wife accused of a horrific crime. As the story progresses, it slowly reveals Susane’s struggles with her own past and suspicions about her housekeeper, Sharon. Vengeance Is Mine explores the themes of failing memories and a woman’s uncertainty about her past.
Meanwhile, The Gathering of Bastards by Nigerian poet and essayist, Romeo Oriogun, is shortlisted for the NBCC Award for Poetry alongside Saskia Hamilton’s All Souls, Kim Hyesoon’s Phantom Pain Wings, Robyn Schiff’s Information Desk, and Charif Shanaha’s Trace Evidence. In The Gathering of Bastards published by the University of Nebraska Press, Oriogun chronicles the struggles of African migrants as they navigate internal and external borders. The poems blend vulnerability and sharp insights, portraying the poet as a perpetual migrant undergoing forced journeys across West and North African nations, Europe, and American cities. In each verse, he reflects on the hardships of living amidst terror and loss, while pondering on the meaning of home.
Also shortlisted is Egyptian journalist and novelist, Ahmed Naji, whose autobiography, Rotten Evidence: Reading and Writing in an Egyptian Prison is listed for the awards for autobiography. The book, written in Arabic and translated by Katharine Halls, details Naji’s account of the ten months he spent in Cairo’s Tora Prison for “violating public modesty” with his novel, Using Life. Through vivid storytelling, he unveils the challenges of prison life, from navigating a cigarette-based economy to the struggle to make sense of senseless oppression under authoritarian censorship.
The National Book Critics Circle Awards, presented annually in March, recognise outstanding literature published in the United States across six categories: autobiography, biography, criticism, fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. The winners of the 2023 NBCC Awards will be announced at a ceremony on March 21, 2024, at The New School Auditorium in New York.