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.

2020 NBCC Award Finalists

  • Fiction

    Inside Story
    If I Had Two Wings
    Hamnet
    How to Pronounce Knife
    Memorial
    • Martin Amis

      Inside Story Knopf
    • Randall Kenan

      If I Had Two Wings W.W. Norton
    • Maggie O’Farrell

      Hamnet Knopf
    • Souvankham Thammavongsa

      How to Pronounce Knife Little, Brown
    • Bryan Washington

      Memorial Riverhead
  • Nonfiction

    The Broken Heart of America
    Shakespeare in a Divided America
    She Come By It Natural
    Caste- The Origins of Our Discontent
    Island on Fire- The Revolt That Ended Slavery in the British Empire
    • Walter Johnson

      The Broken Heart of America: St, Louis and the Violent History of the United States Basic
    • James Shapiro

      Shakespeare in a Divided America: What His Plays Tell Us About Our Past and Future Penguin Press
    • Sarah Smarsh

      She Come By It Natural: Dolly Parton and the Women Who Lived Her Songs Scribner
    • Isabel Wilkerson

      Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent Random House
    • Tom Zoellner

      Island on Fire: The Revolt That Ended Slavery in the British Empire Harvard Univ. Press
  • Biography

    Stranger in the Shogun’s CityStranger in the Shogun’s City
    The Price of Peace
    Red Comet
    The Dead Are Arising
    The Equivalents
    • Amy Stanley

      Stranger in the Shogun’s City: A Japanese Woman and Her World Scribner
    • Zachary D. Carter

      The Price of Peace: Money, Democracy, and the Life of John Maynard Keynes Random House
    • Heather Clark

      Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath Knopf
    • Les Payne, Tamara Payne

      The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X Liveright
    • Maggie Doherty

      The Equivalents: A Story of Art, Female Friendship, and Liberation in the 1960s Knopf
  • Autobiography

    Minor Feelings
    This is Major
    Golem Girl
    The Dragons, The Giant, The Women
    Home Baked- My Mom, Marijuana, and the Stoning of San Francisco
    • Cathy Park Hong

      Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning One World
    • Shayla Lawson

      This Is Major: Notes on Diana Ross, Dark Girls, and Being Dope HarperPerennial
    • Riva Lehrer

      Golem Girl One World
    • Wayétu Moore

      The Dragons, The Giant, The Women Graywolf
    • Alia Volz

      Home Baked: My Mom, Marijuana, and the Stoning of San Francisco HMH
  • Poetry

    Obit
    Here Is The Sweet Hand
    Imperial Liquor
    The Shore
    Homie
    • Victoria Chang

      Obit Copper Canyon
    • Francine J. Harris

      Here Is The Sweet Hand Farrar, Straus and Giroux
    • Amaud Jamaul Johnson

      Imperial Liquor Univ. of Pittsburgh Press
    • Chris Nealon

      The Shore Wave
    • Danez Smith

      Homie Graywolf
  • Criticism

    Marking Time
    Stranger Faces
    Grieving
    Unfinished Business
    Crap- A HISTORY OF CHEAP STUFF IN AMERICA
    • Nicole Fleetwood

      Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration Harvard Univ. Press
    • Namwali Serpell

      Stranger Faces Transit
    • Cristina Rivera Garza

      Grieving: Dispatches from a Wounded Country Feminist Press
    • Vivian Gornick

      Unfinished Business: Notes of a Chronic Re-Reader Farrar, Straus and Giroux
    • Wendy A. Woloson

      Crap: A History of Cheap Stuff in America Univ. of Chicago Press
  • John Leonard Prize

    The John Leonard Prize for Best First Book is selected by the organization’s membership. The 2020 winner will be announced on March 25, 2021.

    The Undocumented Americans
    Luster
    A Burning
    Shuggie Bain
    Real Life
    How Much of These Hills Is Gold
    • Kerri Arsenault

      Mill Town: Reckoning with What Remains St. Martin's
    • Karla Cornejo Villavicencio

      The Undocumented Americans One World
    • Raven Leilani

      Luster Farrar, Straus and Giroux
    • Megha Majumdar

      A Burning Knopf
    • Douglas Stuart

      Shuggie Bain Grove
    • Brandon Taylor

      Real Life Riverhead
    • C Pam Zhang

      How Much of These Hills Is Gold Riverhead
  • 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 2020 Balakian Prize is Jo Livingstone. The finalists are listed below.

    • Rumaan Alam

    • Jake Cline

    • Sophie Haigney

    • Dean Rader

  • Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award

    • The Feminist Press at the City University of New York