Supporting Book Criticism and Literary Culture Since 1974

Mission Statement: The National Book Critics Circle honors outstanding writing and fosters a national conversation about reading, criticism, and literature.

History: The National Book Critics Circle was founded in April 1974 at the Algonquin Hotel in New York City, with founding members John Leonard, Nona Balakian, and Ivan Sandrof intending to extend the Algonquin round table to a national conversation. The NBCC gained 501(c)(3) status in October 2006, and in 2010 received an NEA grant to support the website and its literary blog, Critical Mass. Updates to the NBCC’s bylaws were last incorporated in June 2021. The NBCC’s tax-exempt status means donations are tax-deductible. Please visit our Donate page to learn more.

Membership: The NBCC serves nearly 800 member critics, authors, literary bloggers, book publishing professionals, student members, and friends. Membership is open to freelance and staff book reviewers, associate nonvoting members, student members, and friends. Full members receive access to tips on book reviewing, an annually updated guide to publications that accept freelance pitches for reviews, the ability to nominate titles for our annual awards and elect board members, plus a variety of discounts on literary magazines. Please visit our Membership page for details and to become a member.

NBCC Awards: The National Book Critics Circle awards are given each March and honor literature published in the United States in six categories—autobiography, biography, criticism, fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. These are the only national literary awards chosen by critics themselves. Each year the NBCC also honors one of its member critics with the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing and confers the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award and Toni Morrison Achievement Award on a distinguished author, editor, publisher, or literary institution. The NBCC awards finalists’ reading and NBCC awards ceremony, presented annually in March, bring together authors, reviewers, publishing professionals, and passionate readers for our celebration.

Connecting Online: The NBCC does more than present its awards. Throughout the year it connects with members and readers in a variety of ways. Our weekly newsletter, Critical Notes, includes updates on reviews and interviews from members, as well as news about literary events around the country. You can find us on Twitter and Facebook as well.

Serving the Literary Community: The NBCC reaches the reading public through our website and at free public events nationwide, often with partners including AWP, PEN American Center, WNYC/Greene Performance Space, the New School University, the Center for Fiction, Housing Works, Gemini Ink in San Antonio, Minneapolis Public Library, City Lights Books in San Francisco, Prairie Lights in Iowa City, and dozens of others.