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.

John Leonard Prize

Winners of the John Leonard Prize in 2018, 2017 and 2016.

The John Leonard Prize for Best First Book, the prize that is decided not by the board, but by the membership, has selected its finalists for 2019.

Fleishman Is In Trouble, Taffy Brodesser-Akner (Random House)

The Yellow House: A Memoir, Sarah M. Broom (Grove)

The Unpassing, Chia-Chia Lin (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls: A Memoir, T Kira Madden (Bloomsbury)

Disappearing Earth, Julia Phillips (Knopf)

Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion, Jia Tolentino (Random House)

Lot: Stories, Bryan Washington (Riverhead)

Nominations for the John Leonard Prize for a first book in any genre were solicited from the voting members of the NBCC. Finalists for the Prize are the titles that received the most nominations.

Named for the longtime critic and NBCC co-founder John Leonard, the Leonard Prize is awarded for the best first book in any genre and was launched in 2013. Recent winners  include Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado (2017) and There, There by Tommy Orange (2018).

A panel of NBCC member-volunteers will read the finalists and select the winner, which will be announced on January 11, 2020.

The John Leonard Prize will be presented at the NBCC Awards Ceremony in New York City on March 12, 2020.


Each fall, we invite NBCC members to join the volunteer Leonard Committee. The Leonard Committee members commit to reading the entire slate of finalists, generally 5-7 books.

Any and all members of the NBCC can join the Leonard Committee. In the past, the reading committee has received ebooks of the finalists. The member panel votes for the winner, which is announced in January.