Graywolf Press is pleased to announce that Otherwise Known as the Human Condition: Selected Essays and Reviews by Geoff Dyer has been selected as the winner of the 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism. The winners were announced last night during a ceremony at the New School's Tishman Auditorium.
Fiona McCrae, director and publisher at Graywolf Press, attended the ceremony. "Geoff Dyer's critical essays are in a class of their own," she said. "He really owns this form, and he runs--flies--with it. I am so proud for him and for Graywolf that Otherwise Known as the Human Condition has won this award."
Geoff Dyer has earned the devotion of passionate fans on both sides of the Atlantic through his wildly inventive, romantic novels as well as several brilliant, uncategorizable works of nonfiction. All the while he has been writing some of the wittiest, most incisive criticism we have on an astonishing array of subjects--music, literature, photography, and travel journalism--that, in Dyer's expert hands, becomes a kind of irresistible self-reportage. Otherwise Known as the Human Condition collects twenty-five years of essays, reviews, and misadventures. For Dyer there is no division between the reflective work of the critic and the novelist's commitment to lived experience: they are mutually illuminating ways to sharpen our perceptions. His is the rare body of work that manages to both frame our world and enlarge it.
Upon its publication in last spring, Otherwise Known as the Human Condition received widespread attention and rave reviews. Dwight Garner wrote in the New York Times that the book should be paid attention to by "anyone who cares about joyous, wriggling sentences composed in the English language"; he subsequently named it one of his top ten nonfiction books of the year. Zadie Smith reviewed Otherwise Known as the Human Condition in Harper's Magazine, in which she said that Geoff Dyer's humor is "what separates him from Berger and Lawrence and Sontag: it's what makes these essays not just an education, but a joy." Similar praise was conveyed in the Los Angeles Times, New York Times Book Review, Bookforum, the Boston Globe, the Star Tribune, Bookslut, the Nation, the San Francisco Chronicle, and many other publications.
"Ever since I began writing I hoped to be published in America, and once I started getting published it was recognition in America that I longed for," said Geoff Dyer. "Being shortlisted for an NBCC prize a few years ago was a huge thrill; to actually be awarded it this time is a great honor. I am grateful from the bottom of my heart."
This is the second time that a Graywolf author has won the NBCC Award for criticism. Eula Biss won for Notes from No Man's Land: American Essays in 2010. In 2008, Graywolf poet Mary Jo Bang won the NBCC Award for her moving poetry collection, Elegy.
Geoff Dyer is the author of four novels and six genre-defying books, including But Beautiful; Out of Sheer Rage, which was a National Book Critics Circle finalist; and Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi. His most recent book, Zona: A Book About a Film About a Journey to a Room, has just been published. He lives in London.
The National Book Critics Circle is a not-for-profit organization of book editors and critics with some 600 members nationwide. The organization was founded in 1974 to encourage and raise the quality of book criticism in all media and to create a way for critics to communicate with one another about their professional concerns (www.bookcritics.org).
Graywolf Press is an independent, not-for-profit publisher dedicated to the creation and promotion of thoughtful and imaginative contemporary literature essential to a vital and diverse culture. Graywolf has published significant books of poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and translations for over thirty-five years, and has become one of the leading literary publishers in the country. For more information, please visit www.graywolfpress.org.
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