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National Book Critics Circle Award

The Prizes

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Aug 5, 2006, 12:19pm Top

For the discussion of the National Book Critics Circle Award, including the prizes for Fiction, General Non-Fiction, Biography, Autobiography, Poetry and Criticism.

Aug 5, 2006, 12:27pm Top

I am currently reading Voices from Chernobyl, which won the General Nonfiction Award this year, and it is indeed extraordinary. It is a series of first-hand accounts of regular people's experiences with the nuclear disaster, almost entirely unmediated by any interventions from the author/interviewer. Thus instead of getting a single authoritative take on the event, filled with scientific and historical arguments, instead you get a sort of triangulation of what happened, a negotiation of facts between many many voices. It is fascinating, deeply moving, and terrifying.

Fascinating that it would be chosen the same year that American Prometheus wins the Biography prize. Has anyone read this or any of the other winners?

Oct 13, 2006, 8:31am Top

Two months later....

I'm reading A Thounsand Acres by Jane Smiley. It's a rather quick read, and I like it, but I'm not getting that waves-breaking-over-my-head feeling I've gotten from other books.

Oct 13, 2006, 11:31pm Top

I found A Thousand Acres very satisfying.

Oct 16, 2006, 9:07am Top

Now that I've finished it...

A Thousand Acres was good, and I would recommend it to other readers, but I wasn't 'transported' by it. I wonder what made it so remarkable compared to other books published that year. Are there books on the short lists that any of you would also recommend?

Oct 16, 2006, 4:47pm Top

Bookishbunny, I'd have to agree with you on A Thousand Acres. My favorite NBCC award novels are: The Known World, Motherless Brooklyn, and Atonement. I really didn't care for Gilead and never finished it.

Oct 17, 2006, 10:56am Top

After reading about twenty pages of Gilead I realised that I was reading a sort of meditation on this man's life, the idea of which I found very boring. I nearly gave up but pressed on and at some point the book lulled me into it's easy, comfortable drift. It was an unusual reading experience but ultimately one I enjoyed.

Oct 17, 2006, 11:08am Top

Thanks for that comment, amandameale. When I get to this book, I'll remember that.

Oct 24, 2006, 5:58pm Top

You will get the waves breaking...and it will stay with you.

Oct 24, 2006, 6:00pm Top

Well now, I loved A Thousand acres and Atonement, but didn't even bother to finish The Known World and Gilead. I have yet to find my book soul mate.

Jan 12, 2007, 7:14pm Top

Finalists will be announced the end of this month. Please, whoever sees them first, would you cut and paste them on this thread? It's much easier to talk about them when we can easily refer to the list.

Edited: Jan 22, 2007, 9:13am Top

The list has been announced.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy
The lay of the Land by Richard Ford
What Is the What by Dave Eggers
The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai
and Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Adichie

Edited to say this is the fiction list, published in the NY Times. Will check the web site later for other categories, unless someone beats me to it.

Edited: Jan 22, 2007, 10:44am Top

Both The Road and What is the What were on my 'favorite books of 2006' list and are just wonderful novels. The Lay of the Land didn't work for me at any level and I was rather bored with it finally. I'm not in the least interested in Kiran Desai's book either, so I definitely won't be reading that one, but I've got a copy of Half of a Yellow Sun I'll be getting to before too long.

Edited: Jan 22, 2007, 11:40am Top

From their website...(I left out "criticism" and "fiction" posted above).


Patrick Cockburn, The Occupation: War and Resistance in Iraq
Ann Fessler, The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe V. Wade
Michael Pollan, The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals
Simon Schama, Rough Crossings: Britain, the Slaves and the American Revolution
Sandy Tolan, The Lemon Tree: An Arab, a Jew and the Heart of the Middle East


Donald Antrim, The Afterlife
Alison Bechdel, Fun Home
Alexander Masters, Stuart: A Life Backwards
Daniel Mendelsohn, The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million
Teri Jentz, Strange Piece of Paradise


Daisy Fried, My Brother is Getting Arrested Again.
Troy Jollimore, Tom Thomson in Purgatory.
Miltos Sachtouris, Poems (1945-1971)
Frederick Seidel, Ooga-Booga
W.D. Snodrass, Not for Specialists: New and Selected Poems


Debby Applegate: The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher
Taylor Branch, At Canaan's Edge: America in the King Years, 1965-1968
Frederick Brown, Flaubert: A Biography
Julie Phillips, James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon
Jason Roberts, A Sense of the World: How a Blind Man Became History's Greatest Traveler

Touchstones a bit overwhelmed, I think. Having a lot of trouble with some of the poetry...

Jan 22, 2007, 3:07pm Top

Of course, I was happy to see Half of A Yellow Sun on the list, since I've been touting it as one of my favorite books of 2006 and, indeed, of many years. Neither Cormac McCarthy or Dave Eggers have appealed to me in the past, but I've been thinking of reading their current books, the Eggers because Francine Prose gave it such a good review in the Times Book Review. Never read Richard Ford's The Sportswriter, and sort of felt I should before trying The Lay of the Land, but haven't been really motivated, and The Inheritance of Loss did very little for me -- liked some parts, didn't like it overall.

Jan 26, 2007, 4:53pm Top

I am reading Lay of the Land now. I'm getting all the backstory I need from this 3rd of the series and I have no interest in going back and reading them. I have such mixed feelings about this author! His writing is just amazingly evocative, really brilliant, and I chuckle often, but his writing is so MALE...I don't like this Paul Bascombe fellow much at all. The book appears to be taking place all in one day and there is absolutely no action. I can't believe it has been placed on so many winning lists. Book critics must mostly live in New Jersey!

Jan 26, 2007, 6:53pm Top

The Lay of the Land didn't work at all for me either, kjphenix, and I've never liked Bascombe in Ford's other books, didn't here either.

Feb 27, 2007, 1:32pm Top

Winners will be announced March 8th, 6 p.m. EST at the ceremony. Not sure how long it will take to make it online.

Edited: Mar 8, 2007, 8:23pm Top

2006 Fiction winner is The Inheritance of Loss. More coming...

Edited: Mar 8, 2007, 8:26pm Top

This year's NBCC Award for Autobiography goes to The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million, by Daniel Mendelsohn

This year's NBCC Award for General Nonfiction goes to Rough Crossings: Britain, the Slaves and the American Revolution, by Simon Schama

This year's NBCC Award for Biography goes to James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon, by Julie Phillips

This year's NBCC Award for Poetry goes to Tom Thompson in Purgatory, by Troy Jollimore

pasted in from the NBCCA blog...

Edited: Mar 8, 2007, 8:40pm Top

I have to say that I am absolutely thrilled for Julie Phillips! It took her ten years to write this book. The Alice Sheldon biography is just such a great and unusual choice.

I would've chosen the Adichie over the Desai, personally. I do like their writeup of the Desai though...each time I read something like this, my reading of the book is enhanced.

Mar 9, 2007, 3:57am Top

I've never been interested in reading the Desai, still not curious about it all, but am also thrilled for Julie Phillips. The story of Alice Sheldon is really an amazing one, and her book was easily one of the best of last year.

Mar 9, 2007, 8:48am Top

Well, it just goes to show there's no accounting for taste. I found The Inheritance of Loss extremely disappointing and, as people here know, think Half of a Yellow Sun is one of the best new books I've read in years.

Mar 9, 2007, 9:12am Top

Well, rebeccanyc, we can still hope that Adichie will be recognized by the other awards...

While I enjoyed Inheritance, I still found it oddly put together in a way that diminishes its message. No doubt, I missed something along the way (which is why I like to read reviews and criticism of it).

Apr 23, 2007, 11:12am Top

I think I'm one of the few people who actually really liked Desai's The Inheritance of Loss. I found her writing simply beautiful; and some of the confusion I felt initially stemmed from some of my ignorance of Indian culture and caste systems and history - that said, I believe the book was more about disconnection from one's country and culture which could be applied universally.

I also read Adichie's beautiful book. I would give Half of a Yellow Sun the edge over The Inheritance of Loss - but then I think Adichie is one of the most talented writers I've encountered!

Dec 20, 2007, 7:21pm Top

January 12th, in the evening (West coast time) will be the announcement of the 2007 nominees. Seems results should be posted by morning - one hopes.

Jan 16, 2008, 3:31pm Top

National Book Critics Circle Award Nominees 2008


Vikram Chandra, Sacred Games, HarperCollins
Junot Diaz, The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao, Riverhead
Hisham Matar, In The Country of Men. Dial Press
Joyce Carol Oates, The Gravediggers Daughter
Marianne Wiggins, The Shadow Catcher


Philip Gura, American Transcendentalism, Farrar, Straus
Daniel Walker Howe, What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America 1815-1848, Oxford University Press
Harriet Washington, Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present
Tim Weiner, Legacy of Ashes: A History of the CIA, Doubleday
Alan Weisman, The World Without Us, Thomas Dunne/St. Martin’s


Joshua Clark, Heart Like Water: Surviving Katrina and Life in Its Disaster Zone, Free Press
Edwidge Danticat, Brother, I'm Dying, Knopf signed firsts, $45
Joyce Carol Oates, The Journals of Joyce Carol Oates, 1973–1982, Ecco
Sara Paretsky, Writing in an Age of Silence, Verso
Anna Politkovskaya, Russian Diary: A Journalist's Final Account of Life, Corruption and Death in Putin's Russia, Random House


Tim Jeal, Stanley: The Impossible Life Of Africa’s Greatest Explorer, Yale University Press
Hermione Lee, Edith Wharton, Knopf
Arnold Rampersad, Ralph Ellison. Knopf
John Richardson, The Life Of Picasso: The Triumphant Years, 1917-1932, Knopf
Claire Tomalin, Thomas Hardy, Penguin Press


Mary Jo Bang, Elegy, Graywolf
Matthea Harvey, Modern Life, Graywolf
Michael O'Brien, Sleeping and Waking, Flood
Tom Pickard, The Ballad of Jamie Allan, Flood
Tadeusz Rozewicz, New Poems, Archipelago


Joan Acocella, Twenty-Eight Artists and Two Saints, Pantheon
Julia Alvarez, Once Upon a Quniceanera, Viking
Susan Faludi, The Terror Dream, Metropolitan/Holt
Ben Ratliff, Coltrane: The Story of a Sound, Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Alex Ross, The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century, Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Jan 16, 2008, 6:39pm Top

Thanks for posting the lists, avaland.

I haven't read most of these, but here are comments on the ones I have.

Sacred Games by Vikram Chandra Both compelling and infuriating, doesn't completely succeed, but a wonderful attempt.

The World Without Us by Alan Weisman Started it but got distracted and haven't finished it. Interesting idea, but I'm not sure I'd consider it award-worthy.

Writing in an Age of Silence by Sara Paretsky Impassioned, but not in my opinion award-worthy.

My sweetie has read the Ralph Ellison biography by Arnold Rampersad and thought it was very good, and has (because I gave it to him), but hasn't yet read, Coltrane: The Story of a Sound by Ben Ratliff.

I hope to read The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Brother, I'm Dying, possibly the biographies of Edith Wharton and Thomas Hardy, and The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century, but I don't have them yet and have no idea when I'll have time to read them!

Jan 16, 2008, 10:50pm Top

I have read The Gravedigger's Daughter which was on my personal top ten for 2007. I also have the Matar still in the endless TBR pile and I gave my husband the Diaz for Christmas.

As for nonfiction, I have the Thomas Hardy but haven't read it yet (too much school stuff to read) but have browsed through the Joyce Carol Oates journals enough to be intrigued, and I have read bits of the Faludi book (again, trying not to get distracted from the school reading). It's interesting that Faludi's work is considered "criticism."

Mar 7, 2008, 8:48pm Top


Fiction The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Non-Fiction Medical Apartheid
Biography Stanley: The Impossible Life Of Africa’s Greatest Explorer
Autobiography/Memoir: Brother, I'm Dying
Poetry: Elegy
Criticism: The Rest is Noise

Mar 7, 2008, 8:50pm Top

I got The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao from the library, but I really couldn't get into it. Maybe it was bad timing. I'd be willing to give it another try.

Mar 10, 2009, 10:01pm Top

The 2008 NBCC Awards will be handed out on March 12th. Here are the finalists for each category:

Fiction Finalists
Roberto Bolaño, 2666
Marilynne Robinson, Home
Aleksandar Hemon, The Lazarus Project
M. Glenn Taylor, The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart
Elizabeth Strout, Olive Kittredge

Poetry Finalists
August Kleinzahler, Sleeping It Off in Rapid City
Juan Felipe Herrera, Half the World in Light
Devin Johnston, Sources
Pierre Martory, The Landscapist
Brenda Shaughnessy, Human Dark with Sugar

Criticism Finalists
Richard Brody, Everything Is Cinema: The Working Life Of Jean-Luc Godard
Vivian Gornick, The Men in My Life
Joel L. Kraemer, Maimonides: The Life and World of One of Civilization’s Greatest Minds
Reginald Shepherd, Orpheus in the Bronx: Essays on Identity, Politics, and the Freedom of Poetry
Seth Lerer, Children’s Literature: A Reader’s History: Reader’s History from Aesop to Harry Potter

Biography Finalists
Paula J. Giddings, Ida, A Sword Among Lions: Ida B. Wells and the Campaign Against Lynching
Steve Coll, The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family In An American Century
Patrick French, The World Is What It Is: The Authorized Biography of V.S. Naipaul
Annette Gordon-Reed, The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family
Brenda Wineapple, White Heat: The Friendship of Emily Dickinson & Thomas Wentworth Higginson

Autobiography Finalists
Rick Bass, Why I Came West
Helene Cooper, The House On Sugar Beach
Honor Moore, The Bishop’s Daughter
Andrew X. Pham, The Eaves Of Heaven
Ariel Sabar, My Father’s Paradise: A Son’s Search for His Jewish Past in Kurdish Iraq

Nonfiction Finalists
Dexter Filkins, The Forever War
Drew Gilpin Faust, This Republic of Suffering: Death and the Civil War
Jane Mayer, The Dark Side, Doubleday
Allan Lichtman, White Protestant Nation
George C. Herring, From Colony to Superpower: US Foreign Relations Since 1776

Mar 12, 2009, 7:39pm Top

The NBCC Award winners were announced this evening:

Fiction: Roberto Bolaño, 2666
Poetry: August Kleinzahler, Sleeping It Off in Rapid City and Juan Felipe Herrera, Half the World in Light
Criticism: Seth Lerer, Children’s Literature: A Reader’s History: Reader’s History from Aesop to Harry Potter
Biography: Patrick French, The World Is What It Is: The Authorized Biography of V.S. Naipaul
Autobiography: Ariel Sabar, My Father’s Paradise: A Son’s Search for His Jewish Past in Kurdish Iraq
Nonfiction: Dexter Filkins, The Forever War

Mar 18, 2009, 8:00am Top

>33 kidzdoc: well, the Bolano was a no-brainer. And all male authors, gee, what century are we in? (sorry, my usual bitch)

Mar 18, 2009, 9:25am Top

I was hoping that Helene Cooper's The House at Sugar Beach would have won the autobiography award, after listening to an interview of her on NPR. I haven't read it yet; my mother has my copy.

Mar 18, 2009, 10:10am Top

>34 avaland:: I'm with you, avaland. Sheesh.

Mar 18, 2009, 11:48am Top

>34 avaland:/36 - it was 50/50 last year and look at the books that won this year - Iraq, Afghanistan, homelessness - it's a result of the new social consciousness.

Mar 18, 2009, 1:40pm Top

Admirable, jargoneer, but seriously, no women??? (also my usual bitch)

Mar 18, 2009, 6:02pm Top

>37 Jargoneer: what? women aren't capable of writing socially conscious literature?

Mar 18, 2009, 6:16pm Top

>39 avaland: - not according to the NBCC.

Interestingly, the board is 13-11 in favour of women.

Mar 20, 2009, 7:48am Top

>40 Jargoneer: the gender parity of the board usually has no bearing on outcome, imo. Patriarchal tradition can be carried on by women also. Not that even other male authors had much chance against Bolano (although, of all awards, this one fits him nicely. He is the kind of writer the NBCC likes to reward). It will be interesting to see how many other awards Bolano can pull off this year. . .

Mar 20, 2009, 8:36am Top

Well, 2666 IS a great book, and sometimes it helps to be dead, too. I haven't read enough of the nominated books to be able to make an informed decision, but in nonfiction I certainly think The Dark Side: The inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals by Jane Mayer (which I've read and admired greatly, although it was chilling and Drew Gilpin Faust's This Republic of Suffering (which I'm looking forward to reading) should have been very strong contenders.

Edited: Jan 24, 2010, 10:34am Top

The finalists for the 2009 NBCC Awards were announced yesterday:

Diana Athill, Somewhere Towards the End
Debra Gwartney, Live Through This: A Mother's Memoir of Runaway Daughters and Reclaimed Love
Mary Karr, Lit
Kati Marton, Enemies of the People: My Family's Journey to America
Edmund White, City Boy

Blake Bailey, Cheever: A Life
Brad Gooch, Flannery: A Life of Flannery O'Connor
Benjamin Moser, Why This World: A Biography of Clarice Lispector
Stanislao G. Pugliese, Bitter Spring: A Life of Ignazio Silone
Martha A. Sandweiss, Passing Strange: A Gilded Age Tale of Love and Deception Across the Color Line

Eula Biss, Notes From No Man's Land: American Essays
Stephen Burt, Close Calls with Nonsense: Reading New Poetry
Morris Dickstein, Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression
David Hajdu, Heroes and Villains: Essays on Music, Movies, Comics, and Culture
Greg Milner, Perfecting Sound Forever: An Aural History of Recorded Music

Bonnie Jo Campbell, American Salvage
Marlon James, The Book of Night Women
Michelle Huneven, Blame
Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall
Jayne Anne Phillips, Lark and Termite

Wendy Doniger, The Hindus: An Alternative History
Greg Grandin, Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford's Forgotten Jungle City
Richard Holmes, The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science
Tracy Kidder, Strength in What Remains
William T. Vollmann, Imperial

Rae Armantrout, Versed
Louise Glück, A Village Life
D.A. Powell, Chronic
Eleanor Ross Taylor, Captive Voices: New and Selected Poems, 1960–2008
Rachel Zucker, Museum of Accidents

National Book Critics Circle Announces Finalists

Edited: Mar 16, 2010, 10:06am Top

I'm actually a little surprised that Mantel won the NBCC Award. The Mantel is of course award-worthy - that's not to be argued - it's just that I've also thought the NBCC tended to go for books a bit edgier (maybe that's not the word I want), a little more eclectic (maybe not that word either). Hmmm.

eta: quirkier

Jan 23, 2011, 3:02pm Top

The finalists for the 2010 National Book Critics Circle Awards were announced yesterday:


Jennifer Egan, A Visit From The Goon Squad
Jonathan Franzen, Freedom
David Grossman, To The End Of The Land
Hans Keilson, Comedy In A Minor Key
Paul Murray, Skippy Dies


Sarah Bakewell, How To Live, Or A Life Of Montaigne
Selina Hastings, The Secret Lives Of Somerset Maugham: A Biography
Yunte Huang, Charlie Chan: The Untold Story Of The Honorable Detective And His Rendezvous With American History
Thomas Powers, The Killing Of Crazy Horse
Tom Segev, Simon Wiesenthal: The Life And Legends


Kai Bird, Crossing Mandelbaum Gate: Coming of Age Between the Arabs and Israelis, 1956-1978
David Dow, The Autobiography of an Execution
Christopher Hitchens, Hitch-22: A Memoir
Rahna Reiko Rizzuto, Hiroshima in the Morning
Patti Smith, Just Kids
Darin Strauss, Half a Life


Elif Batuman, The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them

Terry Castle, The Professor and Other Writings
Clare Cavanagh, Lyric Poetry and Modern Politics: Russia, Poland, and the West
Susie Linfield, The Cruel Radiance

Ander Monson, Vanishing Point: Not a Memoir


Barbara Demick, Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea

S.C. Gwynne, Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History
Jennifer Homans, Apollo’s Angels: A History of Ballet
Siddhartha Mukherjee, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer
Isabel Wilkerson, The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration


Anne Carson, Nox

Kathleen Graber, The Eternal City: Poems
Terrance Hayes, Lighthead

Kay Ryan, The Best of It

C.D. Wright, One with Others: a little book of her days

The winners will be announced on March 10th. More information:

The National Book Critics Circle Finalists for 2010 Awards

Jan 23, 2011, 3:19pm Top

Thanks for posting the list.

For fiction, I've only read A Visit from the Goon Squad, which I certainly think deserves the award as it was one of my favorite books of last year, and Comedy in a Minor Key.

Haven't read any of the biographies or poetry, but I'm currently reading Just Kids by Patti Smith and so far I can say it deserves the autobiography award (without of course having read any of the others). I also loved Nothing to Envy, but haven't read any of the other nonfiction nominees.

Jan 23, 2011, 4:05pm Top

Fiction: I've read Freedom, which I thought was good but not great, and I'll read Skippy Dies in the near future.

Nonfiction: I loved The Emperor of All Maladies, which was one of my top 10 books of 2010. I'll read Nothing to Envy this spring, and The Warmth of Other Suns next month.

Poetry: I own Lighthead and One With Others, and I'll definitely read both collections soon.

Biography, Autobiography, Criticism: I don't own and haven't read any of the finalists in these categories.

Jan 24, 2011, 7:39pm Top

I'm planning on winning Lighthead and Warmth Of Other Suns in February. I do want to get Hitchens' Hitch-22

Edited: Mar 10, 2011, 9:15pm Top

The winners of the 2010 NBCC awards were announced earlier this evening:

Fiction: Jennifer Egan, A Visit From The Goon Squad

Biography: Sarah Bakewell, How To Live, Or A Life Of Montaigne

Autobiography: Darin Strauss, Half a Life

Criticism: Clare Cavanagh, Lyric Poetry and Modern Politics: Russia, Poland, and the West

Nonfiction: Isabel Wilkerson, The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration

C.D. Wright, One with Others: a little book of her days

More information: 2010 NBCC Award Winners

Mar 14, 2011, 8:14am Top

Thanks Darryl!

Jan 23, 2012, 11:21am Top

The finalists for this year's National Book Critics Circle Awards were announced last night:


Teju Cole, Open City (Random House)
Jeffrey Eugenides, The Marriage Plot (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Alan Hollinghurst, The Stranger’s Child (Knopf)
Edith Pearlman, Binocular Vision (Lookout Books)
Dana Spiotta, Stone Arabia (Scribner)


Amanda Foreman, A World on Fire: Britain’s Crucial Role in the American Civil War (Random)
James Gleick, The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood (Pantheon)
Adam Hochschild, To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Maya Jasanoff, Liberty's Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary World (Knopf)
John Jeremiah Sullivan, Pulphead: Essays (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux)


Diane Ackerman, One Hundred Names for Love: A Stroke, A Marriage, and the Language of Healing (W.W. Norton)
Mira Bartók, The Memory Palace (Free Press)
Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts, Harlem Is Nowhere: A Journey to the Mecca of Black America (Little, Brown)
Luis J. Rodríguez, It Calls You Back: An Odyssey Through Love, Addiction, Revolutions, and Healing (Touchstone)
Deb Olin Unferth, Revolution: The Year I Fell in Love and Went to Join the War (Henry Holt)


Mary Gabriel, Love and Capital: Karl and Jenny Marx and the Birth of the Revolution (Little, Brown)
John Lewis Gaddis, George F. Kennan: An American Life (Penguin Press)
Paul Hendrickson, Hemingway’s Boat: Everything He Loved in Life, and Lost, 1934-1961 (Knopf)
Manning Marable, Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention (Viking)
Ezra F. Vogel, Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China (Belknap Press: Harvard University Press)


David Bellos, Is That a Fish in Your Ear?: Translation and the Meaning of Everything (Faber & Faber)
Geoff Dyer, Otherwise Known as the Human Condition: Selected Essays and Reviews (Graywolf)
Jonathan Lethem, The Ecstasy of Influence (Doubleday)
Dubravka Ugresic, Karaoke Culture (Open Letter)
Ellen Willis, Out of the Vinyl Deeps: Ellen Willis on Rock Music (University of Minnesota Press)


Forrest Gander, Core Samples from the World (New Directions)
Aracelis Girmay, Kingdom Animalia (BOA Editions)
Laura Kasischke, Space, in Chains (Copper Canyon Press)
Yusef Komunyakaa, The Chameleon Couch (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux)
Bruce Smith, Devotions (University of Chicago Press)

The winners will be announced on March 8. More info: http://bookcritics.org/blog/archive/press-release-draft

Jan 23, 2012, 11:49am Top

Thanks for the update, Darryl. The only fiction nominee I've read (so far) is The Marriage Plot. I ended up liking it much better than I thought I would, though I doubt I'll consider it one of my best books of the year. I hope not anyway as I rated it 3.8 stars. ;-)

Edited: Mar 8, 2012, 7:33pm Top

The winners of this year's National Book Critics Circle Awards are:

Fiction: Edith Pearlman, Binocular Vision

Nonfiction: Maya Jasanoff, Liberty's Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary World

Autobiography: Mira Bartók, The Memory Palace

Biography: John Lewis Gaddis, George F. Kennan: An American Life

Criticism: Geoff Dyer, Otherwise Known as the Human Condition: Selected Essays and Reviews

Poetry: Laura Kasischke, Space, in Chains

More info: http://bookcritics.org/blog/archive/for-immediate-release-nbcc-award-winners-for...

Mar 16, 2012, 5:20pm Top

I recently bought the Pearlman, and it's outstanding so far.

Mar 17, 2012, 2:52pm Top

I read The Memory Palace, and although it isn't a perfect book, is quite a strong and emotional one. Especially sad to me is the lack of resources for those who are not capable of taking care of themselves and not capable even of hunting out the resources that are available.

This book sure makes me grateful for my nice, normal family.

Edited: Jan 14, 2013, 6:29pm Top

The finalists for the 2012 National Book Critics Circle Awards were announced earlier today:


Reyna Grande, The Distance Between Us (Atria Books)
Maureen N. McLane, My Poets (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Anthony Shadid, House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Leanne Shapton, Swimming Studies (Blue Rider Press)
Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, In the House of the Interpreter (Pantheon)


Robert A. Caro, The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson (Alfred A. Knopf)
Lisa Cohen, All We Know: Three Lives (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Michael Gorra, Portrait of a Novel: Henry James and the Making of an American Masterpiece (A Liveright Book: W.W. Norton)
Lisa Jarnot, Robert Duncan, The Ambassador from Venus: A Biography (University of California Press)
Tom Reiss, The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo (Crown Publishers)


Paul Elie, Reinventing Bach (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Daniel Mendelsohn, Waiting for the Barbarians: Essays from the Classics to Pop Culture (New York Review Books)
Mary Ruefle, Madness, Rack, and Honey (Wave Books)
Marina Warner, Stranger Magic: Charmed States and the Arabian Nights (Belknap Press: Harvard University Press)
Kevin Young, The Grey Album: On the Blackness of Blackness (Graywolf Press)


Laurent Binet, HHhH, translated by Sam Taylor (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (Ecco)
Adam Johnson, The Orphan Master’s Son (Random House)
Lydia Millet, Magnificence (W.W. Norton)
Zadie Smith, NW (The Penguin Press)


Katherine Boo, Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity (Random House)
Steve Coll, Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power (The Penguin Press)
Jim Holt, Why Does the World Exist? An Existential Detective Story (A Liveright Book: W.W. Norton)
David Quammen, Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic (W.W. Norton)
Andrew Solomon, Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity (Scribner)


David Ferry, Bewilderment: New Poems and Translations (University of Chicago Press)
Lucia Perillo, On the Spectrum of Possible Deaths (Copper Canyon Press)
Allan Peterson, Fragile Acts (McSweeney’s Books)
D.A. Powell, Useless Landscape, or A Guide for Boys (Graywolf Press)
A.E. Stallings, Olives (Triquarterly: Northwestern University Press)

"Winners of the National Book Critics Circle book awards will be announced on Thursday, February 28, 2013, at 6:00 p.m. at the New School’s Tishman Auditorium. A finalists’ reading will be held on February 27, 2013, also at 6:00 p.m. at the New School’s Tishman Auditorium. Founded in 1974 in New York City, the NBCC is the sole award bestowed by working critics and book-review editors."

More information: http://bookcritics.org/

Jan 15, 2013, 9:32am Top

Interesting list; thanks for posting it.

Edited: Jan 13, 2014, 12:45pm Top

The lists of finalists for the 2013 National Book Critics Circle Awards were announced earlier this morning:


Sonali Deraniyagala, WAVE (Knopf)
Aleksandar Hemon, THE BOOK OF MY LIVES
Jesmyn Ward, MEN WE REAPED




Hilton Als, WHITE GIRLS (McSweeney’s)
Jonathan Franzen, THE KRAUS PROJECT


Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, AMERICANAH
Alice McDermott, SOMEONE




Lucie Brock-Broido, STAY, ILLUSION
Denise Duhamel, BLOWOUT
Carmen Gimenez Smith, MILK AND FILTH

The winners will be announced on 13 March in a ceremony at The New School in NYC. More info:

Announcing the National Book Critics Awards Finalists for Publishing Year 2013

Edited: Jan 13, 2014, 7:23pm Top

cool - thanks for the lists, all nicely linked, kidzdoc! i was pleased to see the finalists noted this morning, and was thinking it would be a cool reading project, reading all the finalists. though i haven't done well with reading LitCrit in the past...franzen's book grabbed my interest in 2013.

also announced this morning (copied from the website: http://bookcritics.org/blog/archive/announcing-the-national-book-critics-awards-...):

* Anthony Marra’s novel A Constellation of Vital Phenomena (Hogarth) is the debut recipient of the John Leonard Prize, established this year to recognize outstanding first books in any genre. Named to honor the memory of founding NBCC member John Leonard, the prize is uniquely decided by a direct vote of the organization’s nearly 600 members nationwide, whereas the traditional awards are nominated and chosen by the elected 24-member board of directors.

* The recipient of the 2013 Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing is Katherine A. Powers, contributor to many national book review sections, including the Boston Globe, the Washington Post and the Barnes and Noble Review. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and is the editor of Suitable Accommodations: An Autobiographical Story of Family Life: The Letters of J. F. Powers, 1942–1963. For the second time in its 27-year history, the Balakian Citation carries with it a $1,000 cash prize, generously endowed by NBCC board member Gregg Barrios.

* The recipient of the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award is Rolando Hinojosa-Smith. At 84, Hinojosa-Smith is the dean of Chicano authors, best known for his ambitious Klail City Death Trip cycle of novels. He is also an accomplished translator and essayist, as well as a mentor and inspiration to several generations of writers. A recipient of the 1976 Premio Casa de las Americas, Hinojosa-Smith is professor of literature at the University of Texas, Austin, where he has taught for nearly three decades.

I think a lot of people will be happy to see Marra receive this honour - his book had been a stand-out for so many in 2013.

Mar 17, 2014, 12:22am Top

The winners of the National Book Critic Circle Awards for 2014 were announced on Thursday night:

Poetry: Frank Bidart, Metaphysical Dog
Criticism: Franco Moretti, Distant Reading
Autobiography: Amy Wilentz, Farewell, Fred Voodoo: A Letter From Haiti
Biography: Leo Damrosch, Jonathan Swift: His Life and His World
Nonfiction: Sheri Fink, Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital
Fiction: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah

More info: http://bookcritics.org/blog/archive/national-book-critics-circle-announces-award...

Edited: Jan 20, 2015, 7:46am Top

The finalists for the 2014 National Book Critics Circle Awards were announced yesterday:


Blake Bailey, The Splendid Things We Planned: A Family Portrait
Roz Chast, Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?
Lacy M. Johnson, The Other Side: A Memoir
Gary Shteyngart, Little Failure
Meline Toumani, There Was and There Was Not


Ezra Greenspan, William Wells Brown: An African American Life
S.C. Gwynne, Rebel Yell: The Violence, Passion and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson
John Lahr, Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh
Ian S. MacNiven, “Literchoor Is My Beat”: A Life of James Laughlin, Publisher of New Directions
Miriam Pawel, The Crusades of Cesar Chavez: A Biography


Eula Biss, On Immunity: An Inoculation
Vikram Chandra, Geek Sublime: The Beauty of Code, the Code of Beauty
Claudia Rankine, Citizen: An American Lyric
Lynne Tillman, What Would Lynne Tillman Do?
Ellen Willis, The Essential Ellen Willis, edited by Nona Willis Aronowitz


Rabih Alameddine, An Unnecessary Woman
Marlon James, A Brief History of Seven Killings
Lily King, Euphoria
Chang-rae Lee, On Such a Full Sea
Marilynne Robinson, Lila


David Brion Davis, The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Emancipation
Peter Finn and Petra Couvee, The Zhivago Affair: The Kremlin, the CIA, and the Battle over a Forbidden Book
Elizabeth Kolbert, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History
Thomas Piketty, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, translated from the French by Arthur Goldhammer
Hector Tobar, Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle that Set Them Free


Saeed Jones, Prelude to Bruise
Willie Perdomo, The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon
Claudia Rankine, Citizen: An American Lyric
Christian Wiman, Once in the West
Jake Adam York, Abide

You may have noted that Citizen: An American Lyric is nominated in two categories, Criticism and Poetry. That is not a typographical error, and this is the first time in the 40 year history of the awards that a single book has been nominated in two categories in the same year.

"The awards will be presented on March 12, 2015 at the New School, in a ceremony that is free and open to the public."

More info: http://bookcritics.org

Jan 20, 2015, 6:54pm Top

>62 kidzdoc:

I spent yesterday and today reading Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine. An incredibly powerful and moving work. I hope it wins in BOTH categories! For those who don't know, it addresses the micro-aggressions (and often not-so-micro aggressions) faced everyday by black citizens of the United States (though some of the examples extend beyond that group). I'll be thinking about this book for a very long time.

Mar 16, 2015, 10:16am Top

The National Book Critics Circle Award winners were announced last week:

Fiction: Marilynne Robinson, Lila
General Nonfiction: David Brion Davis, The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Emancipation
Biography: John Lahr, Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh
Autobiography: Roz Chast, Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?
Poetry: Claudia Rankine, Citizen: An American Lyric
Criticism: Ellen Willis, The Essential Ellen Willis, edited by Nona Willis Aronowitz
John Leonard Prize: Phil Klay, Redeployment

Jan 20, 2016, 1:55am Top

The finalists for the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Awards were announced last night:


Elizabeth Alexander, The Light of the World (Grand Central Publishing)
Vivian Gornick, The Odd Woman and the City (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
George Hodgman, Bettyville (Viking)
Margo Jefferson, Negroland (Pantheon)
Helen Macdonald, H Is for Hawk (Grove Press)


Terry Alford, Fortune’s Fool: The Life of John Wilkes Booth (Oxford University Press)
Charlotte Gordon, Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Her Daughter Mary Shelley (Random House)
T.J. Stiles, Custer’s Trials: A Life on the Frontier of a New America (Alfred A. Knopf)
Rosemary Sullivan, Stalin’s Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva (Harper)
Karin Wieland, translated by Shelley Frisch, Dietrich and Riefenstahl: Hollywood, Berlin, and a Century in Two Lives (Liveright)


Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me (Spiegel & Grau)
Leo Damrosch, Eternity’s Sunrise: The Imaginative World of William Blake (Yale University Press)
Maggie Nelson, The Argonauts (Graywolf)
Colm Tóibín, On Elizabeth Bishop (Princeton University Press)
James Wood, The Nearest Thing to Life (Brandeis University Press)


Paul Beatty, The Sellout (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Lauren Groff, Fates and Furies (Riverhead)
Valeria Luiselli, The Story of My Teeth, translated by Christina MacSweeney (Coffee House Press)
Anthony Marra, The Tsar of Love and Techno (Hogarth)
Ottessa Moshfegh, Eileen (Penguin Press)


Mary Beard, SPQR: A History of Rome (Liveright)
Ari Berman, Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Jill Leovy, Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America (Spiegel & Grau)
Sam Quinones, Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic (Bloomsbury)
Brian Seibert, What the Eye Hears: A History of Tap Dancing (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)


Ross Gay, Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude (University of Pittsburgh Press)
Terrance Hayes, How to Be Drawn (Penguin)
Ada Limón, Bright Dead Things (Milkweed Editions)
Sinéad Morrissey, Parallax and Selected Poems (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Frank Stanford, What About This: Collected Poems of Frank Stanford (Copper Canyon Press)

"Winners of the National Book Critics Circle awards will be announced on Thursday, March 17, 2016 at 6:00 p.m. at the New School’s Tishman Auditorium. A finalists’ reading will be held on March 16, also at 6:00 p.m. at the same location. Both events are free and open to the public."

More info: http://bookcritics.org/

Apr 21, 2016, 9:31am Top

Here are the winners of the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Awards, which were announced last month.

Fiction: The Sellout by Paul Beatty
General Nonfiction: Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic by Sam Quinones
Autobiography: Negroland by Margo Jefferson
Biography: Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Her Daughter Mary Shelley by Charlotte Gordon
Criticism: The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson
Poetry: Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude by Ross Gay
John Leonard Prize: Night at the Fiestas by Kirstin Valdez Quade

Jan 18, 7:57am Top

The finalists for the 2016 National Book Critics Circle Awards were announced last night:


Marion Coutts, “The Iceberg

Jenny Diski, “In Gratitude” (Bloomsbury)

Hope Jahren, “Lab Girl

Hisham Matar, “The Return: Fathers, Sons, and the Land in Between

Kao Kalia Yang, “The Song Poet: A Memoir of My Father


Nigel Cliff, “Moscow Nights: The Van Cliburn Story

Ruth Franklin, “Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life

Joe Jackson, “Black Elk: The Life of an American Visionary

Michael Tisserand, “Krazy: George Herriman, a Life in Black and White

Frances Wilson, “Guilty Thing: A Life of Thomas De Quincey


Carol Anderson, “White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide” (

Mark Greif, “Against Everything: Essays

Alice Kaplan, “Looking for The Stranger: Albert Camus and the Life of a Literary Classic

Olivia Laing, “The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone

Peter Orner, “Am I Alone Here?: Notes on Living to Read and Reading to Live


Michael Chabon, “Moonglow

Louise Erdrich, “LaRose

Adam Haslett, “Imagine Me Gone

Ann Patchett, “Commonwealth

Zadie Smith, “Swing Time


Matthew Desmond, “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City

Ibram X. Kendi, “Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America

Jane Mayer, “Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right”

Viet Thanh Nguyen, “Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War

John Edgar Wideman, “Writing to Save a Life: The Louis Till File


Ishion Hutchinson, “House of Lords and Commons

Tyehimba Jess, “Olio

Bernadette Mayer, “Works and Days

Robert Pinsky, “At the Foundling Hospital

Monica Youn, “Blackacre

Group: The Prizes

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