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NBCC Honors Eder

January 18, 1987|ELIZABETH MEHREN

NEW YORK — The Times' Book Critic Richard Eder has been named winner of National Book Critics Circle's 1986 citation for excellence in book reviewing. The citation is made annually as part of the NBCC's book prize program.

The books to be awarded an NBCC prize on Jan. 29 are:

In fiction, Reynolds Price's "Kate Vaiden" (Atheneum).

In poetry, Edward Hirsch's "Wild Gratitude" (Knopf)).

In "general nonfiction," John Dower's "War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War" (Pantheon).

In biography, Theodore Rosengarten's "Tombee: Portrait of a Cotton Planter" (Morrow).

In criticism, Joseph Brodsky's "Less Than One: Selected Essays" (Farrar, Straus & Giroux).

PUBLISHERS' POWER LUNCH--Robert A. Gottlieb, editor-in-chief at Knopf since 1968, has been named editor of The New Yorker. How did he do it? In a business famous for its lunches, Gottlieb is famous for not lunching. It is this, insiders suspect, that ultimately gave him the edge over the broiled-fish, Michael Korda school of literary lunchmanship.

SYZYGY--That peculiar phenomenon of the cosmos that we all learned to pronounce when it occurred over New Year's seems also to have taken place when L.A.'s Sun & Moon Press lined up with Paul Auster. Now that "The Locked Room," Volume 3 of Auster's "The New York Trilogy," is out from Sun & Moon, the flood of interest in Auster seems certain to continue. "It has been very strange," Sun & Moon publisher Douglas Messerli says. "People call, hundreds of people, from all over the country, just to say 'what a good book.' You could almost call it a cult." One explanation for the sudden popularity of this 40-year-old poet, illustrator, novelist and now writer-in-residence at Princeton University could be the timing of his futuristic detective series. "There is great interest in detective stories," Messerli said. "On top of it all, this is serious literature that deals with the whole American condition." Messerli snapped up the package when New York literary agent Carol Mann first brought it to him, and so it is with no small reluctance that he has watched his suddenly-hot writer sign on with Viking for his next opus. "In the Country of Last Things," set in a metropolis that is decaying and dealing with questions of personal freedom, survival and love, is to be published by Viking in April. "Unfortunately we are losing him," Messerli said, lamenting the fate, so frequently that of a press like his that publishes maybe 25 books per year. "Obviously we can't always compete with the larger presses. We can offer things the larger presses can't--for instance, we keep the books in print. But obviously there are other things the larger presses can offer, like money up front."

THE POLITICIAN AND THE PEN: Proving that "I still have a hot arm, as we say in baseball," Nicaraguan Vice President Dr. Sergio Ramirez, that country's leading prose writer, has come out with a collection called "Stories," sardonic tales that explore the condition of Latin America. The collection, published by Readers International, follows the same publisher's recent issuance of "To Bury Our Fathers," Ramirez's novel of Nicaragua in the Somoza era. "It was satisfying, writing these stories," Ramirez said. "It also proved that the excuse I have been giving for 10 years that I cannot be both a writer and a politician is rubbish."

WINNERS: Six prizes of $5,000 have been awarded to this year's winners of the 1986 General Electric Foundation Awards for Younger Writers. Selected by the Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines, the prizes this year go to: Julia Alvarez for fiction published in the new renaissance; Sandra Joy Jackson-Opoku for fiction published in Heresies; Rodney Jones, for poetry published in River Styx; Ewa Kuryluk for poetry in The Paris Review, and Eliot Weinberger for a literary essay in Sulfur. The program is designed to recognize excellence in new, less established creative writers and to support the literary magazines that publish their works. Another "younger" prize, the Peter I.B. Lavan Younger Poet Award, has gone to Timothy Steele, author of the recent collection "Sapphics Against Anger" (Random House).

AS PAPP LIKES IT: New York Shakespeare Festival founder Joseph Papp will join with Los Angeles-based critic/writer Kenneth Turan to spin out an oral history of Papp and his experiences in the theater. As yet untitled, the book will be published by Bantam Books Hardcover in 1989.

LITERARY RX: With "What to Do About AIDS: Physicians and Mental Health Professionals Discuss the Issue," University of California Press is among at least five publishers coming out with AIDS-related books this winter and spring. Edited by Leon McKusick, the UC Press book joins another December volume, "AIDS: Facts and Issues" (edited by Victor Gong MD and Norman Rudnick), from Rutgers University Press. Published in England earlier in 1986, "AIDS: The Deadly Epidemic," by Graham Hancock and Enver Carim, comes out in January, and will be distributed in this country by David Charles. In May, Crown will publish "When Someone You Know Has AIDS: A Practical Guide," by Leonard J. Martelli with Fran D. Peltz and William Messina. There is even a Young Adult book on the subject: Morton L. Kurland's "Coping with AIDS/Facts & Fears (Rosen Publishing Group).

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