Essays by Cynthia Ozick, a biography of Emperor Hirohito and a novel about two decomposing lovers were among the winners this week at the National Book Critics Circle Awards.
Ozick, a four-time nominee, won in the criticism category for her collection "Quarrel & Quandary," which includes essays on everything from the transcendence of poetry to the commercialization of "The Diary of Anne Frank."
An acclaimed novelist and nonfiction writer who has never had great popular success, Ozick praised her publisher, Alfred A. Knopf, for sticking with her.
"What could be more mid-list, or low-list, than a collection of essays?" Ozick said.
Britain's Jim Crace was cited for the novel "Being Dead," which features the decaying corpses of two married zoologists murdered on the sand dunes of a British seaside town. Crace, author of several well-regarded books, was chosen over a pair of better-known writers: Zadie Smith, who at age 24 emerged as one of the world's most acclaimed young novelists with her debut, "White Teeth," and Michael Chabon, author of the fanciful "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay."
Herbert P. Bix was cited for his biography "Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan," and Ted Conover won for general nonfiction for his prison expose "NewJack: Guarding Sing Sing."
Judy Jordan won for her poetry collection "Carolina Ghost Woods," in which she mourns the deaths of friends, family members and others.
The National Book Critics Circle, founded in 1974, is a not-for-profit organization of book editors and critics. No cash prizes are awarded.