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.

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). Since 2012, the Balakian Citation has carried with it a $1,000 cash prize donated by current Board member Gregg Barrios.

The winner of the 2019 Balakian Prize is Katy Waldman.

Waldman is a staff writer at The New Yorker, where her award-winning criticism appeared.

Finalists for the 2019 Balakian Prize were David Biespiel, Josephine Livingstone, Wendy Smith and David L. Ulin.

The 2020 Balakian Prize is now open and accepting submissions via Submittable

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 7, 2020 in order to be eligible for the award. All submitted reviews must have been published between December 1, 2019 and November 30, 2020PLEASE NOTE: The period for eligible reviews has changed from the calendar year to the above in order to allow reviews published throughout December to qualify.

2020 Submission Procedures

This year, we are accepting submissions via Submittable. Submissions must be entered before midnight PST on Monday, December 7, 2020.

What to submit: Send up to five book reviews (all published between December 1, 2019, and November 30, 2020) 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, e-mail the Balakian Committee chair, Colette Bancroft:

2020 Balakian Committee:

Colette Bancroft, Chair
Jacob Appel
Diego Baez
Charlie Finch
Carlin Romano
Justin Rosier
Elizabeth Taylor
Harriet Washington

Submit to the Balakian via Submittable