William H. Gass, Ph.D., the David May Distinguished University Professor Emeritus in the Humanities and founder of the International Writers Center, both in Arts & Sciences, has won this year’s National Book Critics Circle Award in the criticism category for his book Tests of Time.
This is Gass’ third National Book Critics Circle Award — an unprecedented feat.
“I certainly did not expect to win this time, in part because of already being a two-timer,” Gass said.
“Three-timer sounds better, unless you are thinking of convictions,” he quipped.
The National Book Critics Circle announced the winners of its annual awards during a recent ceremony in New York City. The National Book Critics Circle Award is considered one of the most prestigious honors in literature — on a level with the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award.
Gass previously won the award in 1985 in the criticism category for his book Habitations of the Word. He won for a second time in 1997 for his book Finding a Form.
Gass was unable to attend the awards ceremony in 1985 and 1997, and he began to realize that when he didn’t attend the event, he ended up winning.
In 1997, Gass said, “If there is a next time (when I am nominated), I promise to come to the ceremony even if on that night I’ve been invited to a sleepover in the Lincoln room. And I shall wear a smile as wide as my disappointment when I don’t win.”
He was able to attend this year’s event, and, in a break from tradition, came away with a win.
He later said, “I did mention in my acceptance remarks that I had earlier promised to be there the next time if they ever awarded me the prize again. Chance made it easy for me to keep that promise.”
Gass happened to be in New York City for a reading with author T.C. Boyle.