Join the NBCC to Celebrate Books: A Call for New and Renewing Members

by Anjali Enjeti | May-03-2018

Criticism has never been a more vital and necessary force than it is today. And since its founding in April of 1974, the National Book Critics Circle has worked to uplift, support, and celebrate the voices of book critics.  

I am writing today to invite you to join the NBCC or to renew your membership. There’s never been a better time to be part of our organization! Our annual calendar is busier and more exciting than ever, and our members’ contributions and support have been key factors to our success.

In March, we hold our NBCC finalists’ reading and awards ceremony in NYC where we celebrate the previous year’s outstanding books and authors. Both events are free and open to the public. After the awards ceremony, we hold a reception for the finalists (our only fundraiser) where members get discounted tickets. Check out this year’s finalists and winners on our website!  

In the spring, we serve as a literary partner at the Association of Writers and Writing (AWP) Programs annual conference, where we present a featured reading by award winners or finalists, role models for new and established writers – MFA students and faculty – nationwide, followed by a conversation about the evolving art of writing moderated by an NBCC board member. Historically, our NBCC event is one of the most popular events at AWP, drawing thousands. In the recent past, we’ve presented Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Jeffrey Eugenides, Lorrie Moore, Marilynne Robinson, Dana Spiotta, Amy Tan, and Colson Whitehead. At our table at the AWP book fair, we meet and catch up with new and returning members.

In March, we accept applications for our new Emerging Critics Fellowship, which seeks to identify, nurture, and support the development of the next generation of book critics. (Ismail Muhammad, from our first class of Emerging Critics, has just joined the NBCC board, and Heather Scott Partington is an active member of the Online Committee.) Critics of all ages who seek to review and write about books for print and digital outlets are eligible for the fellowship. Over the course of the one-year fellowship, emerging critics will receive active mentorship from members of NBCC board and dues-free membership to the NBCC, admission to NBCC events, and the annual reception.

Our annual membership meeting takes place in May 30 at 10 20 Cooper Square, 5th floor, followed by an NBCC panel discussion about pertinent issues affecting the book review industry at Book Expo. We'll also announce the new class of Emerging Critics. Please join us (RSVP required; contact for details).

Fall is a busy time for members of the NBCC! Any regular voting NBCC member has the opportunity to nominate titles for the John Leonard Award, given to an author for an outstanding first book in any genre. Those members who wish may serve on the John Leonard committee to read the finalists and vote on a winner. Over the years, the committee has grown tremendously in size and we welcome as many members as possible to participate.

Regular voting members may also nominate writers for the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award. Named after the first president of the NBCC, the award is given annually to a person or institution---a writer, publisher, critic, or editor, among others---who has, over time, made significant contributions to book culture.

The NBCC awards the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing each year to recognize the outstanding work by a member of the NBCC. Members may nominate themselves in December for this award, which carries a $1,000 cash prize.

Our board elections round out the end of the calendar year. Each board term is three years, and we elect eight board members every year. All voting members are eligible to run for the board.

Critical Notes, the weekly roundup published on our website, is chock full of industry news, as well as our members’ latest book reviews, author interviews, and other accomplishments. Our members’ work is publicized on Twitter and Facebook. Members also are able to contribute to NBCC Reads and other literary series published on the website, and volunteer to help with social media for the Online Committee.

Our NBCC Newswire, which comes out quarterly, provides our members with the minutes to NBCC board meetings and ballots for voting, if you’re a full voting member.

A growing list of discounts for publications is available to our members, including Harper’s, Poets & Writers, Tin House, and Virginia Quarterly Review.  

We offer several different types of memberships to meet your needs. Regular voting membership ($50 for freelance critics, $85 for members with staff positions at institutions that support their membership and $70 for those at institutions that pay for multiple memberships) is open to professional book review editors and book reviewers. 

Friend of the NBCC membership ($30 a year) is available to others in the publishing field, including literary agents, editors and publishers, and to others who wish to support our work. In addition, students are welcome to obtain non-voting membership for $15; students who qualify may of course apply for regular voting membership at $50.

Finally, if it makes sense for you financially, we welcome you to support our work by becoming a Lifetime NBCC Voting Member for the one-time fee of $500. This tax-deductible contribution -- our treasurer will provide you with a donation letter for the IRS -- is not just a bargain in the long-term, but works right now to support the many critical projects and initiatives underway.

 If you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact me at

Anjali Enjeti

NBCC Vice President/ Membership

Photos of the 2017 NBCC Award winners (top) and the 2017 board (bottom) by John Midgley, photographed in March 2018.

Photo from 2018 Bay Area Book Festival features Jane Ciabattari, Lydia Kiesling, Ismail Muhammad, John McMurtrie, and Paul Laity.

Anjali Enjeti is NBCC Vice President/Membership. Her articles, essays, and book reviews have appeared in Al Jazeera, The Paris Review, The Georgia Review, The Atlantic, the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Minneapolis Star Tribune, and elsewhere. She teaches creative nonfiction in the MFA program at Reinhardt University, lives near Atlanta, and can be found on Twitter @anjalienjeti.

About the Critical Mass Blog

Commentary on literary criticism, publishing, writing, and all things NBCC related. It's written by independent members of the NBCC Board of Directors (see list of bloggers below).


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