Author Robert Caro is again the critics’ choice.
Caro’s fourth Lyndon Baines Johnson book, The Passage of Power, won the National Book Critics Circle biography prize on Thursday night. The 77-year-old historian has won virtually every literary honor for his Johnson series, from the Pulitzer Prize to the National Book Award to three prizes from the critics circle, founded in 1974, around the time he started on the LBJ books.
Caro is working on the fifth, and presumably last, volume. The Passage of Power covers LBJ’s vice presidential years and the early weeks of his presidency, after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.
The fiction winner was Ben Fountain’s satirical debut novel about the Iraq war, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, a finalist last fall for the National Book Award. The prize for general nonfiction was Andrew Solomon’s best-seller about how families handle everything from hearing loss to mental illness to crime, Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity.
Leanne Shapton’s Swimming Studies, an illustrated chronicle of her life as an artist and athlete, was the autobiography winner. Marina Warner’s exploration of a storytelling classic, Stranger Magic: Charmed States and the Arabian Nights, received the criticism prize. D.A. Powell’s Useless Landscape, or A Guide for Boys was cited for poetry.
No cash prizes were given. Honorary awards were presented to reviewer William Deresiewicz and to Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar for their work in feminist criticism.