Four New York University faculty have been named National Book Critics Circle Finalists for its 2010 book awards: Darin Strauss for Half a Life (autobiography); Susie Linfield for The Cruel Radiance: Photography and Political Violence (criticism); Jennifer Homans for Apollo’s Angels: A History of Ballet (nonfiction); and Anne Carson for Nox (poetry).
In Half a Life (McSweeney’s Books), Strauss, a faculty member in NYU’s Creative Writing Program, recounts how a high-school tragedy marked the beginning of a different, darker life for the author. Strauss’ exploration offers an examination of guilt, responsibility, and living with the past.
Linfield, an associate professor in NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, concludes in The Cruel Radiance (University of Chicago Press) that publishing and viewing photographs of torture, mutilation, and death is not exploitative, but, rather, a necessary step in alleviating political violence. Analyzing photographs from the Holocaust, China’s Cultural Revolution, and recent terrorist acts, Linfield analyzes the complex connection between photojournalism and the rise of human rights ideals.
Homans’ Apollo’s Angels: A History of Ballet (Random House) the first cultural history of ballet ever written, chronicles how this art form has stood at the center of Western civilization for more than 400 years. Homans, a Distinguished Scholar in Residence at NYU, details how ballet was shaped by the Renaissance and Classicism, the Enlightenment and Romanticism, Bolshevism, Modernism, and the Cold War. A former professional dancer, Homans traces the evolution of technique, choreography, and performance, unveiling the intricacies of the art with descriptions of dances and the artists who made them.
Carson’s Nox (New Directions) is a facsimile of a handmade book she wrote and created after the death of her brother. Nox, though a work of poetry, is also a fascinating physical object. Carson, a faculty member in NYU’s Creative Writing Program, pasted old letters, family photos, collages, and sketches on pages. The poems, typed on a computer, were added to this illustrated work, creating a unique visual and reading experience.
Winners will be announced at the National Book Critics Circle Awards ceremony in March.
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