National Book Critics Circle

The National Book Critics Circle Awards are a set of annual American literary awards by the National Book Critics Circle to promote "the finest books and reviews published in English". It honors reading, criticism and literature since 1974.
There are six awards to books published in the U.S. during the preceding calendar year, in six categories: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Memoir/Autobiography, Biography, and Criticism.

 

for Biography category winners

2012 selection

The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson IV

The Years of Lyndon Johnson #4

National Book Critics Circle for Biography 2012, Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Biography 2012

by Robert A. Caro

WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD,  THE LOS ANGELES TIMES BOOK PRIZE, THE MARK LYNTON HISTORY PRIZE, THE NEW-YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY AMERICAN HISTORY BOOK PRIZE

 ONE OF THE NEW YORK TIMES TEN...


2011 selection

George F. Kennan: An American Life

Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography 2012, National Book Critics Circle for Biography 2011

by John Lewis Gaddis

Winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Biography

Widely and enthusiastically acclaimed, this is the authorized, definitive biography of one of the most fascinating but troubled figures of the twentieth century...


2010 selection

How to Live: Or A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer

National Book Critics Circle for Biography 2010

by Sarah Bakewell

Winner of the 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography

How to get along with people, how to deal with violence, how to adjust to losing someone you love—such questions arise in most people’s...


2009 selection

Cheever

National Book Critics Circle for Biography 2009

by Blake Bailey

John Cheever spent much of his career impersonating a perfect suburban gentleman, the better to become one of the foremost chroniclers of postwar America. Written with unprecedented access to essential sources—including...


2008 selection

The World Is What It Is

National Book Critics Circle for Biography 2008

by Patrick French

The first major biography of V.S. Naipaul, the controversial and enigmatic Nobel laureate: a stunning writer whose only stated ambition was greatness, in pursuit of which goal nothing else was sacred.

Beginning...


2007 selection

Stanley: The Impossible Life of Africa's Greatest Explorer

National Book Critics Circle for Biography 2007

by Tim Jeal

"A magnificent new life . . . [and] a superb adventure story. . . . There have been many biographies of Stanley, but Jeal's is the most felicitous, the best informed, the most complete and readable and exhaustive,...


2005 selection

American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer

Duff Cooper Prize 2008, Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography 2006, National Book Critics Circle for Biography 2005

by Martin J. Sherwin & Kai Bird

J. Robert Oppenheimer is one of the iconic figures of the twentieth century, a brilliant physicist who led the effort to build the atomic bomb for his country in a time of war, and who later found himself confronting...


for Biography/Autobiography category winners

2002 selection

Charles Darwin: The Power of Place

National Book Critics Circle for Biography/Autobiography 2002

by Janet Browne

In 1858 Charles Darwin was forty-nine years old, a gentleman scientist living quietly at Down House in the Kent countryside, respected by fellow biologists and well liked among his wide and distinguished circle...


2000 selection

Hirohito And The Making Of Modern Japan

Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction 2001, National Book Critics Circle for Biography/Autobiography 2000

by Herbert P. Bix

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize

In this groundbreaking biography of the Japanese emperor Hirohito, Herbert P. Bix offers the first complete, unvarnished look at the enigmatic leader whose sixty-three-year reign...


1998 selection

A Beautiful Mind

National Book Critics Circle for Biography/Autobiography 1998

by Sylvia Nasar

In this powerful and dramatic biography Sylvia Nasar vividly re-creates the life of a mathematical genius whose career was cut short by schizophrenia and who, after three decades of devastating mental illness,...


1997 selection

Ernie Pyles War: America's Eyewitness to World War II

National Book Critics Circle for Biography/Autobiography 1997

by James Tobin

When a machine-gun bullet ended the life of war correspondent Ernie Pyle in the final days of World War II, Americans mourned him in the same breath as they mourned Franklin Roosevelt. To millions, the loss...


1996 selection

Angela's Ashes: A Memoir

Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography 1997, National Book Critics Circle for Biography/Autobiography 1996, Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Biography 1996

by Frank McCourt

"When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I managed to survive at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while. Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood...


1994 selection

Shot in the Heart

National Book Critics Circle for Biography/Autobiography 1994, Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Biography 1994

by Mikal Gilmore

Gary Gilmore, the infamous murderer immortalized by Norman Mailer in The Executioner's Song, campaigned for his own death and was executed by firing squad in 1977. Writer Mikal Gilmore is his younger brother....


1993 selection

Genet: A Biography

National Book Critics Circle for Biography/Autobiography 1993

by Edmund White

In this revelatory biography of Jean Genet, we have the first full-scale life of one of the great -- and controversial -- figures of twentieth-century literature. Edmund White shows us the writer in all his...


1990 selection

Means of Ascent: The Years of Lyndon Johnson II

The Years of Lyndon Johnson #2

National Book Critics Circle for Biography/Autobiography 1990

by Robert A. Caro

Robert A. Caro's life of Lyndon Johnson, which began with the greatly acclaimed The Path to Power, also winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, continues -- one of the richest, most intensive and most...


1983 selection

Minor Characters: A Beat Memoir

National Book Critics Circle for Biography/Autobiography 1983

by Joyce Johnson

Jack Kerouac. Allen Ginsberg. William S. Burroughs. LeRoi Jones. Theirs are the names primarily associated with the Beat Generation. But what about Joyce Johnson (nee Glassman), Edie Parker, Elise Cowen, Diane...


for Fiction category winners

2013 selection

Americanah

National Book Critics Circle for Fiction 2013

by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

One of The New York Times's Ten Best Books of the Year

Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction

An NPR "Great Reads" Book, a Chicago Tribune Best Book, a Washington Post Notable Book, a Seattle...


2012 selection

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk

Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize 2012, National Book Critics Circle for Fiction 2012, Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction 2012

by Ben Fountain & Oliver Wyman

A finalist for the National Book Award!

A ferocious firefight with Iraqi insurgents at "the battle of Al-Ansakar Canal"—three minutes and forty-three seconds of intense warfare caught on tape by an embedded...


2010 selection

A Visit from the Goon Squad

Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 2011, National Book Critics Circle for Fiction 2010, Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction 2010

by Jennifer Egan

NATIONAL BESTSELLER

National Book Critics Circle Award Winner

PEN/Faulkner Award Finalist

A New York Times Book Review Best Book

One of the Best Books of the Year: Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, The Daily Beast,...


2009 selection

Wolf Hall

Walter Scott Prize 2010, Man Booker Prize 2009, National Book Critics Circle for Fiction 2009

by Hilary Mantel

In the ruthless arena of King Henry VIII’s court, only one man dares to gamble his life to win the king’s favor and ascend to the heights of political power

England in the 1520s is a heartbeat from disaster....


2007 selection

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 2008, Dayton Literary Peace Prize for Fiction 2008, National Book Critics Circle for Fiction 2007, Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize 2007

by Junot Diaz

Oscar is a sweet but disastrously overweight ghetto nerd who—from the New Jersey home he shares with his old world mother and rebellious sister—dreams of becoming the Dominican J.R.R. Tolkien and, most of...


2006 selection

The Inheritance of Loss

National Book Critics Circle for Fiction 2006

by Kiran Desai

In a crumbling, isolated house at the foot of Mount Kanchenjunga in the Himalayas lives an embittered judge who wants only to retire in peace, when his orphaned granddaughter, Sai, arrives on his doorstep. The...


2005 selection

The March: A Novel

PEN/Faulkner Award 2006, National Book Critics Circle for Fiction 2005

by E.L. Doctorow

WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD

WINNER OF THE PEN/FAULKNER AWARD

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

In 1864, Union general William Tecumseh Sherman marched his sixty thousand troops through Georgia to the...


2004 selection

Gilead

Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 2005, National Book Critics Circle for Fiction 2004

by Marilynne Robinson

2005 Pulitzer Prize Winner for Fiction 2004 National Book Critics Circle Winner In 1956, toward the end of Reverend John Ames's life, he begins a letter to his young son, an account of himself and his forebears....


2003 selection

The Known World

International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award 2005, Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 2004, National Book Critics Circle for Fiction 2003

by Edward P. Jones

In one of the most acclaimed novels in recent memory, Edward P. Jones, two-time National Book Award finalist, tells the story of Henry Townsend, a black farmer and former slave who falls under the tutelage of...


2002 selection

Atonement: A Novel

National Book Critics Circle for Fiction 2002, Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction 2002

by Ian Mcewan

The novel opens on a sweltering summer day in 1935 at the Tallis family’s mansion in the Surrey countryside. Thirteen-year-old Briony has written a play in honor of the visit of her adored older brother Leon;...


2001 selection

Austerlitz

Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2002, National Book Critics Circle for Fiction 2001

by W.G. Sebald & James Wood

Austerlitz, the internationally acclaimed masterpiece by “one of the most gripping writers imaginable” (The New York Review of Books), is the story of a man’s search for the answer to his life’s central...


1999 selection

Motherless Brooklyn: A Novel

Gold Dagger Award 2000, National Book Critics Circle for Fiction 1999

by Jonathan Lethem

From America's most inventive novelist, Jonathan Lethem, comes this compelling and compulsive riff on the classic detective novel.

Lionel Essrog is Brooklyn's very own self-appointed Human Freakshow, an orphan...


1994 selection

The Stone Diaries: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)

Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 1995, National Book Critics Circle for Fiction 1994

by Carol Shields & Penelope Lively

In celebration of the fifteenth anniversary of its original publication, Carol Shields's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is now available in a Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition

ONE OF THE MOST successful and acclaimed...


1993 selection

A Lesson Before Dying: A Novel

National Book Critics Circle for Fiction 1993

by Ernest J. Gaines

A Lesson Before Dying, is set in a small Cajun community in the late 1940s.  Jefferson, a young black man, is an unwitting party to a liquor store shoot out in which three men are killed; the only survivor,...


1991 selection

A Thousand Acres: A Novel

Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 1992, National Book Critics Circle for Fiction 1991

by Jane Smiley

A successful Iowa farmer decides to divide his farm between his three daughters. When the youngest objects, she is cut out of his will. This sets off a chain of events that brings dark truths to light and explodes...


1990 selection

Rabbit at Rest

Rabbit Angstrom #4

Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 1991, National Book Critics Circle for Fiction 1990

by John Updike

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the Howells Medal, and the National Book Critics Circle Award

 

In John Updike’s fourth and final novel about Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom, the hero has acquired a Florida condo,...


1989 selection

Billy Bathgate: A Novel

PEN/Faulkner Award 1990, National Book Critics Circle for Fiction 1989

by E.L. Doctorow

To open this book is to enter the perilous, thrilling world of Billy Bathgate, the brazen boy who is accepted into the inner circle of the notorious Dutch Schultz gang. Like an urban Tom Sawyer, Billy takes...


1985 selection

The Accidental Tourist: A Novel

National Book Critics Circle for Fiction 1985

by Anne Tyler

BONUS: This edition contains an excerpt from Anne Tyler's The Beginner's Goodbye.

Macon Leary is a travel writer who hates both travel and anything out of the ordinary. He is grounded by loneliness and an unwillingness...


1981 selection

Rabbit Is Rich

Rabbit Angstrom #3

Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 1982, National Book Award for Fiction 1982, National Book Critics Circle for Fiction 1981

by John Updike

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award

 

The hero of John Updike’s Rabbit, Run, ten years after the events of Rabbit Redux, has come to enjoy considerable...


1978 selection

The Stories of John Cheever

National Book Award for Fiction 1981, Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 1979, National Book Critics Circle for Fiction 1978

by John Cheever

NATIONAL BESTSELLER

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize

When The Stories of John Cheever was originally published, it became an immediate national bestseller and won the Pulitzer Prize.  In the years since, it has...


1977 selection

Song of Solomon

National Book Critics Circle for Fiction 1977

by Toni Morrison

Milkman Dead was born shortly after a neighborhood eccentric hurled himself off a rooftop in a vain attempt at flight. For the rest of his life he, too, will be trying to fly. With this brilliantly imagined...


1975 selection

Ragtime: A Novel

National Book Critics Circle for Fiction 1975

by E.L. Doctorow

Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best novels of all time

Published in 1975, Ragtime changed our very concept of what a novel could be. An extraordinary tapestry, Ragtime captures the spirit of...


for General Non-fiction category winners

2013 selection

Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital

National Book Critics Circle for General Non-fiction 2013, Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Current Interest 2013

by Sheri Fink

One of the New York Times’s Best Ten Books of the Year

Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction

Winner of the 2014 J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the Ridenhour...


2012 selection

Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity

Wellcome Book Prize 2014, Dayton Literary Peace Prize for Nonfiction 2013, National Book Critics Circle for General Non-fiction 2012

by Andrew Solomon

From the National Book Award–winning author of The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression comes a monumental new work, a decade in the writing, about family. In Far from the Tree, Andrew Solomon tells the stories...


2011 selection

Liberty's Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary World

National Book Critics Circle for General Non-fiction 2011

by Maya Jasanoff

On November 25, 1783, the last British troops pulled out of New York City, bringing the American Revolution to an end. Patriots celebrated their departure and the confirmation of U.S. independence. But for tens...


2010 selection

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration

National Book Critics Circle for General Non-fiction 2010

by Isabel Wilkerson

One of The New York Times Book Review’s 10 Best Books of the Year

In this epic, beautifully written masterwork, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Isabel Wilkerson chronicles one of the great untold stories of...


2009 selection

The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science

National Book Critics Circle for General Non-fiction 2009

by Richard Holmes

The Age of Wonder is a colorful and utterly absorbing history of the men and women whose discoveries and inventions at the end of the eighteenth century gave birth to the Romantic Age of Science. 

When young...


2008 selection

The Forever War

National Book Critics Circle for General Non-fiction 2008

by Dexter Filkins

National Bestseller

One of the Best Books of the Year:

New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Boston Globe, and Time

 

An instant classic of war reporting, The Forever War is the definitive...


2007 selection

Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present

National Book Critics Circle for General Non-fiction 2007

by Harriet A. Washington

National Book Critics Circle Award Winner (Nonfiction)

PEN/Oakland Award Winner

BCALA Nonfiction Award Winner

Gustavus Meyers Award Winner

From the era of slavery to the present day, the first full history of black...


2006 selection

Rough Crossings

National Book Critics Circle for General Non-fiction 2006

by Simon Schama

If you were black in America at the start of the Revolutionary War, which side would you want to win?

When the last British governor of Virginia declared that any rebel-owned slave who escaped and served the...


2000 selection

Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing

National Book Critics Circle for General Non-fiction 2000

by Ted Conover

Acclaimed journalist Ted Conover sets a new standard for bold, in-depth reporting in this first-hand account of life inside the penal system.

When Conover’s request to shadow a recruit at the New York State...


1996 selection

Bad Land: An American Romance

National Book Critics Circle for General Non-fiction 1996

by Jonathan Raban

Seduced by the government's offer of 320 acres per homesteader, Americans and Europeans rushed to Montana and the Dakotas to fulfill their own American dream in the first decade of this century. Raban's stunning...


1995 selection

A Civil Action

National Book Critics Circle for General Non-fiction 1995

by Jonathan Harr

"The legal thriller of the decade." --Cleveland Plain Dealer

Now a Major Motion Picture!

In this true story of an epic courtroom showdown, two of the nation's largest corporations stand accused of causing the...


1994 selection

The Rape of Europa: The Fate of Europe's Treasures in the Third Reich and the Second World War

National Book Critics Circle for General Non-fiction 1994

by Lynn H. Nicholas

Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award

The real story behind the major motion picture The Monuments Men. The cast of characters includes Hitler and Goering, Gertrude Stein and Marc Chagall--not to mention...


1991 selection

Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women

National Book Critics Circle for General Non-fiction 1991

by Susan Faludi

Skillfully Probing the Attack on Women’s Rights

“Opting-out,” “security moms,” “desperate housewives,” “the new baby fever”—the trend stories of 2006 leave no doubt that American women are...


1988 selection

Parting the Waters: America in the King Years 1954-63

Pulitzer Prize for History 1989, Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Current Interest 1989, National Book Critics Circle for General Non-fiction 1988

by Taylor Branch

In volume one of his America in the King Years, Pulitzer Prize winner Taylor Branch gives a masterly account of the American civil rights movement.

Hailed as the most masterful story ever told of the American...


1976 selection

The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts

National Book Critics Circle for General Non-fiction 1976

by Maxine Hong Kingston

A Chinese American woman tells of the Chinese myths, family stories and events of her California childhood that have shaped her identity.


for Memoir/Autobiography category winners

2013 selection

Farewell, Fred Voodoo: A Letter from Haiti

National Book Critics Circle for Memoir/Autobiography 2013

by Amy Wilentz

Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography, this is a brilliant writer’s account of a long, painful, ecstatic—and unreciprocated—affair with a country that has long fascinated the...


2012 selection

Swimming Studies

National Book Critics Circle for Memoir/Autobiography 2012

by Leanne Shapton

Winner of the 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award, Autobiography

Swimming Studies is a brilliantly original, meditative memoir that explores the worlds of competitive and recreational swimming. From her...


2011 selection

The Memory Palace

National Book Critics Circle for Memoir/Autobiography 2011

by Mira Bartok

In the tradition of The Glass Castle, two sisters confront schizophrenia in this poignant literary memoir about family and mental illness. Through stunning prose and original art, The Memory Palace captures...


2010 selection

Half a Life: A Memoir

National Book Critics Circle for Memoir/Autobiography 2010

by Darin Strauss

In this powerful, unforgettable memoir, acclaimed novelist Darin Strauss examines the far-reaching consequences of the tragic moment that has shadowed his whole life. In his last month of high school, he was...


2008 selection

My Father's Paradise: A Son's Search for His Jewish Past in Kurdish Iraq

National Book Critics Circle for Memoir/Autobiography 2008

by Ariel Sabar

In a remote corner of the world, forgotten for nearly three thousand years, lived an enclave of Kurdish Jews so isolated that they still spoke Aramaic, the language of Jesus. Mostly illiterate, they were self-made...


2007 selection

Brother, I'm Dying

Dayton Literary Peace Prize for Nonfiction 2008, National Book Critics Circle for Memoir/Autobiography 2007

by Edwidge Danticat

From the age of four, award-winning writer Edwidge Danticat came to think of her uncle Joseph as her “second father,” when she was placed in his care after her parents left Haiti for America. And so she...


2006 selection

The Lost

National Book Critics Circle for Memoir/Autobiography 2006

by Daniel Mendelsohn

In this rich and riveting narrative, a writer's search for the truth behind his family's tragic past in World War II becomes a remarkably original epic—part memoir, part reportage, part mystery, and part scholarly...


2005 selection

Them: A Memoir of Parents

National Book Critics Circle for Memoir/Autobiography 2005

by Francine du Plessix Gray

Tatiana du Plessix, the wife of a French diplomat, was a beautiful, sophisticated "white Russian" who had been the muse of the famous Russian poet Vladimir Mayakovsky. Alexander Liberman, the ambitious son of...


for Poetry category winners

2013 selection

Metaphysical Dog

National Book Critics Circle for Poetry 2013

by Frank Bidart

National Book Critics Circle Award Winner

A National Book Award Finalist

A vital, searching new collection from one of finest American poets at work today

In “Those Nights,” Frank Bidart writes: “We who could...


2009 selection

Versed

2005 selection

Refusing Heaven

National Book Critics Circle for Poetry 2005

by Jack Gilbert

More than a decade after Jack Gilbert’s The Great Fires, this highly anticipated new collection shows the continued development of a poet who has remained fierce in his avoidance of the beaten path. In Refusing...


1994 selection

Rider: The Rider Quintet, vol. 1