[F]or us the best surprise of all wasn’t one of the book nominations; it was the announcement that New York‘s book critic, Sam Anderson, was the winner of the Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing, the most prestigious award for book criticism in the country. Good work, Sam!
9. MOST TRAGIC FIGURE
Edwidge Danticat, Brother, I’m Dying (Knopf)
Danticat’s uncle Joseph lost his wife to illness, his larynx to cancer, his home and church (and almost his head) to a Haitian mob—until finally, at 81, he fled to Miami, where he was finished off by the hellishly inept bureaucracy of U.S. Immigration: detained, interrogated, and allowed to die in custody. Danticat tells his story with almost inhuman restraint.