The National Book Critics Circle Awards

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.

In addition, we award the John Leonard Prize for the best first book in any genre, voted on by NBCC membership; the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing, which recognizes outstanding work by a member of the NBCC; and the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award and Toni Morrison Achievement Award, which are given respectively to individuals and literary institutions for transformative contributions to book culture. Beginning in 2023, we’ll award the Gregg Barrios Book in Translation Prize, for the best book of any genre translated into English and published in the United States.

Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing

The NBCC awards the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing each year to recognize 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, where she served as the board’s first secretary. The eminent critic and longtime editor at the New York Times Book Review also served on the Pulitzer Prize committee, the Board of Directors of PEN, and the Authors Guild board. She was the author of Critical Encounters: Essays (1978), and co-author (with Charles Simmons) of The Creative Present (1969). The NBCC will continue the tradition established by board member Gregg Barrios, who passed away in 2021, by awarding $1,000 to the recipient of the Balakian. 

The 2023 Balakian Prize is now closed. Thanks for your interest!

Submission Guidelines

You must be a member of the NBCC to be considered. If you are not a member, you can join online before December 4, 2023, in order to be eligible for the award. All submitted reviews must have been published between December 1, 2022, and November 30, 2023

2023 Submission Procedures

This year, we are accepting submissions via Submittable. Submissions must be entered before midnight PST on Monday, December 4, 2023.

What to submit: Send up to five book reviews (all published between December 1, 2022, and November 30, 2023) of no more than 5,000 words collectively. The total word count for the submissions must not exceed 5,000, or the entire submission is disqualified from consideration for the award. Make sure to note the venue, title, and word count of each piece submitted.

Please be prepared to upload PDFs or screenshots of your book reviews as they appeared online or in print. Also, provide a link if available online. PLEASE NOTE: A link alone is not sufficient as some venues have paywalls.

For questions about the award and submission process, email the Balakian Committee chair, Colette Bancroft:

Submit to the Balakian via Submittable