The National Book Critics Circle Award

Each year, the National Book Critics Circle presents awards for the finest books published in English in six categories: Fiction, Nonfiction, Biography, Autobiography, Poetry, and Criticism.

2021 NBCC Award Finalists

  • Fiction

    • Joshua Cohen

      The Netanyahus NYRB
    • Rachel Cusk

      Second Place FSG
    • Sarah Hall

      Burntcoat Custom House
    • Honorée Fanonne Jeffers

      The Love Songs of W.E.B DuBois Harper
    • Colson Whitehead

      Harlem Shuffle Doubleday
  • Nonfiction

    • Patrick Radden Keefe

      Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty Doubleday
    • Joshua Prager

      The Family Roe: An American Story Norton
    • Sam Quinones

      The Least of Us: True Tales of America and Hope in the Time of Fentanyl and Meth Bloomsbury
    • Clint Smith

      How the Word Is Passed Little, Brown
    • Rebecca Solnit

      Orwell's Roses Viking
  • Biography

    • Susan Bernofsky

      Clairvoyant of the Small: The Life of Robert Walser Yale University Press
    • Keisha N. Blain

      Until I Am Free: Fannie Lou Hamer's Enduring Message to America Beacon Press
    • Rebecca Donner

      All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days: The True Story of the American Woman at the Heart of the German Resistance to Hitler Little, Brown
    • Mark Harris

      Mike Nichols: A Life Penguin Press
    • Alexander Nemerov

      Fierce Poise: Helen Frankenthaler and 1950s New York Penguin Press
  • Autobiography

    • Hanif Abdurraqib

      A Little Devil in America: Notes In Praise Of Black Performance Random House
    • Jeremy Atherton Lin

      Gay Bar: Why We Went Out Little, Brown
    • Rodrigo Garcia

      A Farewell To Gabo And Mercedes: A Son’s Memoir HarperVia
    • Doireann Ní Ghríofa

      A Ghost In the Throat Biblioasis
    • Albert Samaha

      Concepcion: An Immigrant Family’s Fortunes Riverhead
  • Poetry

    • B.K. Fischer

      Ceive BOA
    • Donika Kelly

      The Renunciations Graywolf
    • Rajiv Mohabir

      Cutlish Four Way
    • Cheswayo Mphanza

      The Rhinehart Frames Univ. of Nebraska
    • Diane Seuss

      frank: sonnets Graywolf
  • Criticism

    • Melissa Febos

      Girlhood Bloomsbury
    • Jenny Diski

      Why Didn't You Do What You Were Told? Bloomsbury
    • Jesse McCarthy

      Who Will Pay Reparations On My Soul? Liveright
    • Mark McGurl

      Everything and Less: The Novel in the Age of Amazon Verso
    • Amia Srinivasan

      The Right To Sex FSG
  • John Leonard Prize

    The John Leonard Prize for Best First Book is selected by the organization’s membership. The 2021 winner will be announced on March 17, 2022.

    • Ashley C. Ford

      Somebody's Daughter Flatiron Books
    • Jocelyn Nicole Johnson

      My Monticello Henry Holt
    • Torrey Peters

      Detransition, Baby One World
    • Larissa Pham

      Pop Song Catapult
    • Anthony Veasna So

      Afterparties Ecco
    • Devon Walker-Figueroa

      Philomath Milkweed Editions
  • Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing

    The Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing is an annual award recognizing outstanding work by a member of the NBCC. The citation is awarded in honor of Nona Balakian, a founding member of the National Book Critics Circle, and comes with a cash prize of $1,000 funded by board member Gregg Barrios. The winner of the 2021 Balakian Prize is Merve Emre. The finalists are listed below.

    • Christoph Irmscher

    • Julian Lucas

    • Jeremy Lybarger

    • Jennifer Wilson

    • Merve Emre