Awards.

Position:Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, HHhH and THE ORPHAN MASTER'S SON

National Book Critics Circle Award

The National Book Critics Circle awards honor the best literature published in English in six categories--autobiography, biography, criticism, fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.

Fiction

WINNER

BILLY LYNN'S LONG HALFTIME WALK

By Ben Fountain

After an intense firefight with Iraqi insurgents caught on tape by Fox News, the eight surviving men of Bravo Squad return to the United States as heroes. Billy Lynn, 19, unwittingly joins a propagandistic two-week Victory Tour that teaches him some hard truths about himself, his family, his country, and his comrades in arms. (**** SELECTION Sept/Oct 2012)

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Finalists

HHhH

By Laurent Binet

The unnamed narrator of HHhH, which stands for "Himmler's brain is called Heydrich," has spent years researching the assassination of ruthless S.S. leader Reinhard Heydrich, and he anguishes over how to tell the story. The way he decides to tell it is as harrowing as any crime thriller. (**** Sept/Oct 2012)

THE ORPHAN MASTER'S SON

By Adam Johnson

In North Korea's recent past, Kim Jong-il rules his Orwellian world with an iron thumb. Jun Do, who grows up in a children's home, eventually gains recognition as a tunnel soldier and is sent on increasingly important missions. But when he falls out of favor with his superiors, he learns just how difficult it is to survive within the world's most oppressive regime. (**** SELECTION Mar/Apr 2012)

MAGNIFICENCE

By Lydia Millet

The third novel in a trilogy that begins with How the Dead Dream (**** May/June 2008) and continues with Ghost Lights (**** Mar/Apr 2012) now turns to IRS agent Hal Lindley's wife, Susan. She shares her story about her attempt to salvage her relationships and make peace with her own transgressions. (**** Mar/Apr 2013)

NW

By Zadie Smith

In this postmodern drama of race, class, and identity from the 1970s to the present, the lives of four Londoners intersect in the northwest corner of the city. As in her debut, White Teeth (2000), and in On Beauty (**** SELECTION Nov/Dec 2005), Smith excavates the truths, both beautiful and sordid, underlying the human condition. (*** Nov/Dec 2012)

General Nonfiction

WINNER

FAR FROM THE TREE

Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity

By Andrew Solomon

Motivated in part by the difficulty of navigating his own dyslexia and homosexuality, Solomon profiles different families to explore how they deal with their children's "horizontal identities"--such as deafness, dwarfism, Down syndrome, genius, and autism, among others. Although parents face untold challenges, they also exhibit a "shimmering humanity" toward their exceptional children. (**** Mar/Apr 2013)

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Finalists

BEHIND THE BEAUTIFUL FOREVERS

Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity

By Katherine Boo

Near the Mumbai airport, the slums of Annawadi are home to 3,000 residents, who live on a fetid patch of land with lean-tos and open sewers. Between 2007 and 2011, Boo uncovered their tragic stories, in which "new India and old India collided...

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