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Love story, chronicle of Hurricane Katrina win U.S. book prizes

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A love story that examines modern attitudes about race, a chronicle of the days after Hurricane Katrina and a biography of Anglo-Irish satirist Jonathan Swift won National Book Critics Circle awards on Thursday.

The prizes presented at the New School in New York City honor books published in the United States in the past year and are selected by the group's 24-member board of directors.

The prize for fiction went to "Americanah," the third novel by Nigerian-born author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie about childhood sweethearts who move to different countries.

American Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Sheri Fink's "Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital", was awarded the prize for nonfiction, and Leo Damrosch's "Jonathan Swift: His Life and His World" won for biography.

In the autobiography category, Amy Wilentz collected the top prize for "Farewell, Fred Voodoo: A Letter from Haiti," based on her years of reporting from Haiti. Italian scholar Franco Moretti's "Distant Reading" claimed the criticism award and Frank Bidart's "Metaphysical Dog" took the poetry prize.

Founded in 1974, the National Book Critics Circle is comprised of nearly 600 critics and book reviewers.

The group selected Anthony Marra's novel "A Constellation of Vital Phenomena" as the recipient of the John Leonard Prize for an outstanding first book in any genre. Leonard was a founding member of the NBCC.

Katherine A. Powers, who writes reviews for newspapers, won the 2013 Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing.

Rolando Hinojosa-Smith, a professor of literature at the University of Texas, Austin, and author of the Klail City Death Trip novels, was selected for the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award.

(Reporting by Patricia Reaney)

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