The National Book Critics Circle (NBCC), founded in 1974, consists of nearly 700 active book reviewers. Each year they present awards for the best book in six categories: fiction, general nonfiction, biography, autobiography, poetry, and criticism.

Prior to 1997, the award was limited to American citizens, when the eligibility rules were changed to include all authors of the best books published in the United States, regardless of nationality. Awards are announced in March each year with Finalists announced in January. Official site.

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Finalists 2010 National Book Critics Circle Book Award (winner March 2011)

Fiction Category Finalists

Biography Category Finalists

Autobiography Category Finalists

Criticism Category Finalists

Nonfiction Category Finalists

Poetry Category Finalists

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2009 Nominees & Winners -









Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing

Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award
Joyce Carol Oates

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2008 National Book Critics Circle Winner

12th March 2009- Chilean author Roberto Bolano has posthumously won the National Book Critics Circle Fiction Award for the English translation of his 912-page novel 2666: A Novel . He completed its first draft shortly before his death in 2004.

Other winners included Dexter Filkins' The Forever War for general nonfiction, Ariel Sabar's My Father's Paradise: A Son's Search for His Jewish Past in Kurdish Iraq for autobiography, and Patrick French's The World Is What It Is: The Authorized Biography of V. S. Naipaul for biography. The poetry prize was shared for the first time by two volumes: August Kleinzahler's Sleeping It Off in Rapid City: Poems, New and Selected and Juan Felipe Herrera's Half of the World in Light: New and Selected Poems . The prestigious Criticism Award went to Seth Lerer for , Children's Literature: A Reader's History from Aesop to Harry Potter.


2008 Finalists

25th January, 2009 The National Book Critics Circle have announced the finalists for its 2008 awards .  Winners will be announced on March 12, 2009 in Manhattan.

Fiction Finalists | Poetry Finalists | Criticism Finalists | Biography Finalists | Autobiography Finalists | Non-fiction

Roberto Bolaño, 2666, FSG- Winner
Marilynne Robinson, Home, FSG
Aleksandar Hemon, The Lazarus Project, Riverhead
M. Glenn Talyor, The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart, West Virginia University Press
Elizabeth Strout, Olive Kittredge, Random House

August Kleinzahler, Sleeping It Off in Rapid City, FSG - Joint Winner
Juan Felipe Herrera, Half the World in Light, University of Arizona Press- Joint Winner
Devin Johnston, Sources, Turtle Point Press
Pierre Martory, trans. by John Ashbery, The Landscapist, Sheep Meadow Press
Brenda Shaughnessy, Human Dark with Sugar, Copper Canyon Press

Criticism Richard Brody, Everything Is Cinema: The Working Life of Jean-Luc Godard, Metropolitan Books
Vivian Gornick, The Men in My Life, Boston Review/MIT
Joel L. Kraemer, Maimonides: The Life and World of One of Civilization’s Greatest Minds, Doubleday
Reginald Shepherd, Orpheus in the Bronx: Essays on Identity, Politics, and the Freedom of Poetry, University of Michigan Press
Seth Lerer, Children's Literature: A Reader's History: Reader's History from Aesop to Harry Potter, University of Chicago Press - Winner

Biography Paula J. Giddings, Ida, A Sword Among Lions: Ida B. Wells and the Campaign Against Lynching, Amistad
Steve Coll, The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in an American Century, Penguin Press
Patrick. French, The World Is What It Is: The Authorized Biography of V.S. Naipaul, Knopf- Winner
Annette Gordon-Reed, The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family, Norton
Brenda Wineapple, White Heat: The Friendship of Emily Dickinson & Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Knopf
Autobiography Rick Bass, Why I Came West, Houghton Mifflin
Helene Cooper, The House on Sugar Beach, Simon and Schuster
Honor Moore, The Bishop’s Daughter, W.W. Norton
Andrew X. Pham, The Eaves of Heaven, Harmony Books
Ariel Sabar, My Father's Paradise: A Son's Search for His Jewish Past in Kurdish Iraq, Algonquin - Winner

Dexter Filkins, The Forever War, Knopf - Winner
Drew Gilpin Faust, This Republic of Suffering: Death and the Civil War, Knopf
Jane Mayer, The Dark Side, Doubleday
Allan Lichtman, White Protestant Nation, Atlantic Monthly Press
George C. Herring, From Colony to Superpower: U.S. Foreign Relations Since 1776, Oxford University Press

Lifetime Achievement Award

PEN American Center

Nona Balakian Citation

Ron Charles

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2007 NBCC Winners- Awarded in 2008

politovskyMarch 2008- Edwidge Danticat's Brother, I'm Dying, previously a finalist in The National Book Awards, has won this years prestigious NBCC Award in the autobiography category. Haitian born Ms. Danticat, took the main prize in the face of some keen competition including Writing in an Age of Silence by Sarah Paretsky and the compelling autobiography of crusading Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya (left) , A Russian Diary: A Journalist's Final Account of Life, Corruption, and Death in Putin's Russia. Ms. Danticat — known for such fiction as The Dew Breaker and Krik? Krak! — said she was a bit out of place in nonfiction, telling her fellow finalists that "I feel like I'm visiting your category" and promising "to speak well of this world" when she got back to writing fiction.

Harriet Washington's, Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present won the General Nonfiction Medical ethicist and journalist Washington details the abusive medical practices to which African Americans have been subjected. Her shocking history begins in the colonial period, when owners would hire out or sell slaves to physicians for use as guinea pigs in medical experiments. The most notorious case covered in the book is the infamous Tuskegee Syphilis Study, in which about 600 syphilitic men were left untreated by the U.S. Public Health Service so it could study the progression of the disease. A powerful read.

Junot Diaz's (below right) very first novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, took out the Fiction prize. It seems as if Mr. Diaz is a writer to watch. The New Yorker magazine has listed him as one of the 20 top writers for the 21st century. The book has previously won the 2007 Sargant First Novel Prize and in September of 2007, Miramax acquired the rights for a film adaptation of of the novel. Whatever they paid will seem like ab bargain now the book has picked up the NBCC accolade. All pretty impressive considering his only other major work was his short story collection, Drown published way back in 1996. Let's hope it's not so long until the next work.

Upon hearing of the award en route to Caracas, Díaz, whose novel tells of a young, obese Dominican immigrant and his tragicomic quest for love, joked that "some distinct shouting" could probably be heard all the way from Caracas, or at least the muffled sounds of "the vestigial part of his brain being blown."Some links to more information about Junot Diaz below.

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In the Biography category Tim Jeal's (left), Stanley: The Impossible Life of Africa's Greatest Explorer published Yale University Press won ahead of other strong contenders John Richardson, A Life of Picasso: The Triumphant Years, 1917-1932 and Arnold Rampersad, Ralph Ellison: A Biography. Paul Theroux writing in the New York Times was certainly impressed by this most recent account of Stanley:

"There have been many biographies of Stanley, but Jeal’s is the most felicitous, the best informed, the most complete and readable and exhaustive, profiting from his access to an immense new trove of Stanley material. In its progress from workhouse to mud hut to baronial mansion, it is like the most vivid sort of Victorian novel, that of a tough little man battling against the odds and ahead of his time in seeing the Congo clearly, its history (in his words) “two centuries of pitiless persecution of black men by sordid whites.”

Mary Jo Bang's fifth collection,Elegy: Poems which chronicles the year following the death of her son won the Poetry Award . According to the publishers note "by weaving the particulars of her own loss into a tapestry that also contains the elements common to all losses, Bang creates something far larger than a mere lament. Continually in search of an adequate metaphor for the most profound and private grief, the poems in Elegy confront, in stark terms and with a resilient voice, how memory haunts the living and brings the dead back to life. Within these intimate and personal poems is a persistently urgent, and deeply touching, examination of grief itself". Courageous stuff.

The final award in an almost unique to the Book Critics Circles category, the Criticism Award, went to music critic Alex Ross (left below)for his first book- The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century The book is a voyage into the labyrinth of modern music, which remains an obscure world for most people. The Rest Is Noise shows why twentieth-century composers felt compelled to create a famously bewildering variety of sounds, from the purest beauty to the purest noise. It tells of a remarkable array of maverick personalities who resisted the cult of the classical past, struggled against the indifference of a wide public, and defied the will of dictators. Whether they have charmed audiences with sweet sounds or battered them with dissonance, composers have always.

The book has certainly come to the notice of others being of the New York Times's 10 Best Books of 2007. It was also on best-of-the-year lists in the Washington Post, Amazon.com the LA Times, New York (also Best Non-Fiction Book), Time, The Economist, Slate, and Newsweek. A New York Times, LA Times, and Boston Globe bestseller.

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NBCC 2007 Winners & Finalists


Winner: Edwidge Danticat, Brother, I'm Dying Knopf

Joshua Clark, Heart Like Water: Surviving Katrina and Life in Its Disaster Zone, Free Press
Joyce Carol Oates, The Journal of Joyce Carol Oates: 1973-1982, Ecco
Sara Paretsky, Writing in an Age of Silence, Verso
Anna Politkovskaya: A Russian Diary: A Journalist's Final Account of Life, Corruption, and Death in Putin's Russia, Random House

General Nonfiction

Winner: Harriet Washington, Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present, Doubleday

Philip Gura, American Transcendentalism: A History, Farrar, Straus
Daniel Walker Howe, What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848 (Oxford History of the United States), Oxford University Press
Tim Weiner, Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA, Doubleday
Alan Weisman, The World Without Us, Thomas Dunne BKs/St. Martin’s


Winner: Junot Diaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Riverhead

Vikram Chandra, Sacred Games: A Novel (P.S.), HarperCollins
Hisham Matar, In the Country of Men. Dial Press
Joyce Carol Oates,The Gravedigger's Daughter. HarperCollins
Marianne Wiggins, The Shadow Catcher: A Novel, S. & S.

Winner: Tim Jeal, Stanley: The Impossible Life of Africa's Greatest Explorer, Yale University Press

Hermione Lee, Edith Wharton, Knopf
Arnold Rampersad, Ralph Ellison: A Biography. Knopf
John Richardson, A Life of Picasso: The Triumphant Years, 1917-1932, Knopf
Claire Tomalin, Thomas Hardy, Penguin Press

Winner: Mary Jo Bang, Elegy: Poems, Graywolf

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


Winner: Alex Ross- The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century, Farrar, Strauss

Acocella, Joan. Twenty-eight Artists and Two Saints: Essays, Pantheon
Alvarez, Julia. Once Upon a Quinceanera: Coming of Age in the USA, Viking
Faludi, Susan. The Terror Dream: Fear and Fantasy in Post-9/11 America Terror Dream, Metropolitan/Holt
Ratliff, Ben. Coltrane: The Story of a Sound, Farrar, Straus

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NBCC Award Winners National Book Critics Circle Award 1975 TO 2006

Fiction - Nonfiction - Biography - Autobiography - Poetry - Criticism - Reviewing


2006 Kiran Desai The Inheritance of Loss
2005 E.L. Doctorow The March
2004 Marilynne Robinson Gilead
2003 Edward P. Jones The Known World
2002 Ian McEwan Atonement
2001 W.G. Sebald Austerlitz
2000 Jim Crace Being Dead
1999 Jonathan Lethem Motherless Brooklyn
1998 Alice Munro The Love of a Good Woman
1997 Penelope Fitzgerald The Blue Flower
1996 Gina Berriault Women in Their Beds
1995 Stanley Elkin Mrs. Ted Bliss
1994 Carol Shields The Stone Diaries
1993 Ernest J. Gaines A Lesson Before Dying
1992 Cormac McCarthy All the Pretty Horses
1991 Jane Smiley A Thousand Acres
1990 John Updike Rabbit at Rest
1989 E.L. Doctorow Billy Bathgate
1988 Bharati Mukherjee The Middleman and Other Stories
1987 Philip Roth The Counterlife
1986 Reynolds Price Kate Vaiden
1985 Anne Tyler The Accidental Tourist
1984 Louise Erdrich Love Medicine
1983 William Kennedy Ironweed
1982 Stanley Elkin George Mills
1981 John Updike Rabbit Is Rich
1980 Shirley Hazzard The Transit Of Venus
1979 Thomas Flanagan The Year of the French
1978 John Cheever The Stories of John Cheever
1977 Toni Morrison Song Of Solomon
1976 John Gardner October Light
1975 E.L. Doctorow Ragtime


2006 Simon Schama Rough Crossings: Britain, the Slaves and the American Revolution
2005 Svetlana Alexievich Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster
2004 Diarmaid MacCulloch The Reformation: A History
2003 Paul Hendrickson Sons of Mississippi
2002 Samantha Power A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide
2001 Nicholson Baker Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper
2000 Ted Conover Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing
1999 Jonathan Weiner Time, Love, Memory: A Great Biologist and His Quest for the Origins of Behavior
1998 Philip Gourevitch We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families
1997 Anne Fadiman The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down
1996 Jonathan Raban Bad Land: An American Romance
1995 Jonathan Harr A Civil Action
1994 Lynn H. Nicholas The Rape of Europa: The Fate of Europe's Treasures in the Third Reich and the Second World War
1993 Alan Lomax The Land Where the Blues Began
1992 Norman Maclean Young Men and Fire
1991 Susan Faludi Backlash: The Undeclared War Against America Women
1990 Shelby Steele The Content of Our Character: A New Vision of Race in America
1989 Michael Dorris The Broken Cord
1988 Taylor Branch Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-63,
1987 Richard Rhodes The Making of the Atomic Bomb
1986 John W. Dower War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War
1985 J. Anthony Lukas Common Ground: A Turbulent Decade in the Lives of Three American Families
1984 Freeman Dyson Weapons and Hope
1983 Seymour M. Hersh The Price of Power: Kissinger in the Nixon White House
1982 Robert Caro The Path to Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson
1981 Stephen Jay Gould The Mismeasure of Man
1980 Ronald Steel Walter Lippmann and the American Century
1979 Telford Taylor Munich: The Price of Peace
1978 Maureen Howard Facts of Life
1977 Walter Jackson Bate Samuel Johnson
1976 Maxine Hong Kingston The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood among Ghosts
1975 R. W. B. Lewis Edith Wharton: A Biography


2006 Daniel Mendelsohn The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million
2005 Francine du Plessix Gray Them: A Memoir of Parents


2006 Julie Phillips James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon
2005 Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer

Biography/Autobiography (discontinued)

2004 Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan De Kooning: An American Master
2003 William Taubman Khrushchev: The Man and His Era
2002 Janet Browne Charles Darwin: The Power of Place, Vol. II
2001 Adam Sisman Boswell's Presumptuous Task: The Making of the Life of Dr.Johnson
2000 Herbert P. Bix Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan
1999 Henry Wiencek The Hairstons: An American Family in Black and White
1998 Sylvia Nasar A Beautiful Mind
1997 James Tobin Ernie Pyle's War: America's Eyewitness to World War II
1996 Frank McCourt Angela's Ashes
1995 Robert Polito Savage Art: A Biography of Jim Thompson
1994 Mikal Gilmore Shot in the Heart
1993 Edmund White Genet
1992 Carol Brightman Writing Dangerously: Mary McCarthy and Her World
1991 Philip Roth Patrimony: A True Story
1990 Robert A. Caro Means of Ascent: The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Vol. II
1989 Geoffrey C. Ward A First-Class Temperament: The Emergence of Franklin Roosevelt
1988 Richard Ellman Oscar Wilde
1987 Donald R. Howard Chaucer: His Life, His Works, His World
1986 Theodore Rosengarten Tombee: Portrait of a Cotton Planter
1985 Leon Edel Henry James: A Life
1984 Joseph Frank Dostoevsky: The Years of Ordeal, 1850-1859
1983 Joyce Johnson Minor Characters


2006 Troy Jollimore Tom Thomson in Purgatory
2005 Jack Gilbert Refusing Heaven
2004 Adrienne Rich The School Among the Ruins
2003 Susan Stewart Columbarium
2002 B.H. Fairchild Early Occult Memory Systems of the Lower Midwest
2001 Albert Goldbarth Saving Lives
2000 Judy Jordan Carolina Ghost Woods
1999 Ruth Stone Ordinary Words
1998 Marie Ponsot The Bird Catcher
1997 Charles Wright Black Zodiac
1996 Robert Hass Sun Under Wood
1995 William Matthews Time and Money
1994 Mark Rudman Rider
1993 Mark Doty My Alexandria
1992 Hayden Carruth Collected Shorter Poems 1946-1991
1991 Albert Goldbarth Heaven and Earth: A Cosmology
1990 Amy Gerstler Bitter Angel
1989 Rodney Jones Transparent Gestures
1988 Donald Hall That One Day
1987 C.K. Williams Flesh and Blood
1986 Edward Hirsch Wild Gratitude
1985 Louise Glück The Triumph of Achilles
1984 Sharon Olds The Dead and the Living
1983 James Merrill The Changing Light at Sandover
1982 Katha Pollitt Antarctic Traveler
1981 A.R. Ammons A Coast of Trees
1980 Frederick Seidel Sunrise
1979 Philip Levine Ashes: Poems New and Old and 7 Years From Somewhere
1978 L. E. Sissman Hello, Darkness: The Collected Poems of L. E. Sissman
1977 Robert Lowell Day by Day
1976 Elizabeth Bishop Geography III
1975 John Ashberry Self-Portrait in A Convex Mirror

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2006 Lawrence Weschler Everything That Rises: A Book of Convergences
2005 William Logan The Undiscovered Country: Poetry in the Age of Tin
2004 Patrick Neate Where You're At: Notes From the Frontline of a Hip-Hop Planet
2003 Rebecca Solnit River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West
2002 William H. Gass Tests of Time
2001 Martin Amis The War Against Cliché: Essays and Reviews, 1971-2000
2000 Cynthia Ozick Quarrel & Quandary
1999 Jorge Luis Borges Selected Non-Fictions
1998 Gary Giddins Visions of Jazz: The First Century
1997 Mario Vargas Llosa Making Waves
1996 William H. Gass Finding a Form
1995 Robert Darnton The Forbidden Best-Sellers of Pre-Revolutionary France
1994 Gerald Early The Culture of Bruising: Essays on Prizefighting, Literature, and Modern American Culture
1993 John Dizikes Opera in America: A Cultural History
1992 Garry Wills Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words That Remade America
1991 Lawrence L. Langer Holocaust Testimonies: The Ruins of Memory
1990 Arthur C. Danto Encounters and Reflections: Art in the Historical Present
1989 John Clive Not by Fact Alone: Essays on the Writing and Reading of History
1988 Clifford Geertz Works and Lives: The Anthropologist as Author
1987 Edwin Denby Dance Writings
1986 Joseph Brodsky Less Than One: Selected Essays
1985 William H. Gass Habitations of the Word: Essays
1984 Robert Hass Twentieth Century Pleasures: Prose on Poetry
1983 John Updike Hugging the Shore: Essays and Criticism
1982 Gore Vidal The Second American Revolution and Other Essays
1981 Virgil Thomson A Virgil Thomson Reader
1980 Helen Vendler Part of Nature, Part of Us: Modern American Poets
1979 Elaine Pagels The Gnostic Gospels
1978 Meyer Schapiro Modern Art: 19th and 20th Centuries (Selected Papers, Volume 2)
1977 Susan Sontag On Photography
1976 Bruno Bettelheim The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance and Importance of Fairy Tales
1975 Paul Fussell The Great War and Modern Memory

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Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing

2006: Steven G. Kellman
2005: Wyatt Mason, A contributor to Harper's, The New Yorker, The New Republic
2004: David Orr, a contributor to The New York Times Book Review and Poetry Magazine
2003: Scott McLemee
2002: Maureen N. McLane
2001: Michael Gorra
2000: Daniel Mendelsohn
1999: Benjamin Schwarz
1998: Albert Mobilio
1997: Thomas Mallon
1996: Dennis Drabelle
1995: Laurie Stone
1994: JoAnn C. Gutin
1993: Brigitte Frase
1992: Elizabeth Ward
1991: George Scialab

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