Steven Kellman
Steven Kellman

Professor Steven Kellman to receive National Book Critics Circle award

By Tim Brownlee
Assistant Director of Public Affairs

(Feb. 20, 2007)--Steven Kellman, UTSA professor of English, classics and philosophy, was named the winner of the 2006 Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing by the National Book Critics Circle.

"This is the biggest recognition a literary critic can receive," said Daniel Gelo, UTSA professor of anthropology and dean of the College of Liberal and Fine Arts. "We are very excited for Steve, and are privileged to have him as a colleague at UTSA."

The 2006 NBCC book award finalists and the Balakian winner were announced Jan. 20, and the awards will be presented March 8 at a ceremony in New York City. The National Book Critics Circle, founded in 1974, is a nonprofit organization consisting of nearly 700 active book reviewers who honor quality writing.

NOTE: The March 8 NBCC ceremony will be shown on C-SPAN, which often does live broadcasts and repeats programs over several months. For schedule information, consult C-SPAN. The cable channel streams some programs live online.

The centerpiece of NBCC activities is the annual awards for the best book in five categories: fiction, general nonfiction, biography/autobiography, poetry and criticism. In addition to the best book awards, each year the NBCC salutes the most accomplished reviewer in its membership with the Balakian award.

"Texas is lucky to have Steve Kellman," said Celia McGee, National Book Critics Circle board member, on Critical Mass, the blog of the NBCC board. "Were it not for academia's geography putting a twist in fate and making him a professor in the Department of English, Classics and Philosophy at The University of Texas at San Antonio, the state wouldn't be able to claim his practically regular-as-morning-coffee contributions to the Texas Observer and the San Antonio Current, or more occasionally, The Georgia Review and others. The selections he submitted for this year's Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing indicate how many innocent-looking citizens with access to the publication racks and newspaper-dispensing machines of his town are walking around dangerously armed with the literary zingers, intellectual asides and plumb wisdom they get when they read his reviews."

Former Balakian winner Scott McLemee wrote of Kellman in an essay in Inside Higher Ed, a major online news publication covering academic life, "The list of his scholarly works alone would be impressive. Once you count his pieces for newspapers and magazines, the question of whether he can somehow write in his sleep does come up. As another Balakian winner who saw the list told me, 'He's reviewed more books than I've ever read.'"

The Balakian citation is given each year in honor of Nona Balakian, a founding member of the National Book Critics Circle. The eminent critic and longtime editor at the New York Times Book Review who also served on the Pulitzer Prize committee, the board of directors of PEN and the Authors Guild board, was the author of "Critical Encounters: Essays" (1978) and co-wrote "The Creative Present" (1969) with Charles Simmons. She died in 1991.

Kellman's recent books are "Redemption: The Life of Henry Roth" (2005), "The Translingual Imagination" (2000) and "The Plague: Fiction and Resistance" (1993).

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