Emerging Critics Fellowship

Applications for the Emerging Critics Fellowship are currently closed. Check back in early 2025!

The National Book Critics Circle’s Emerging Critics Fellowship seeks to identify, nurture, and support the development of the next generation of book critics.


The Emerging Critics Fellowship is open to critics of all experience levels who seek to review and write about books for print and digital outlets. Applicants may or may not have previously published book reviews. The NBCC seeks a broad range of diverse applicants, especially those who have demonstrated a genuine interest and commitment to engaging in a critical conversation about books. Applicants must be 21 years or older.

Applicants do not need to be U.S. permanent residents and/or citizens to apply. However, applicants should be available to participate in mandatory Emerging Critics Fellowship programming and events for the duration of their term, including virtual workshops, events, and gatherings (scheduled during evenings/weekends, Eastern/Pacific Time Zones). Applicants must also be willing to communicate regularly with mentors and their fellow emerging critics via email, phone, and message board. The NBCC Emerging Critics Program is an interactive, participatory program guided by the philosophy that critical thought can be fostered and enriched through dialogue within a cohort of similarly-interested critics.

At the NBCC, we are invested in encouraging people who are great thinkers and writers but who need support along the path to becoming an active critic. Our fellowship aims to break down financial and geographical barriers for emerging critics. In particular, BIPOC critics, LGBTQIA+ critics, critics with disabilities, and critics from historically resilient communities are encouraged to apply.


Over the course of the one-year fellowship, emerging critics will receive:

  • One-on-one mentorship from board members
  • Small group Q&A with board members
  • Small group professional development/ craft lectures over Zoom
  • Dues-free NBCC membership, admission to NBCC events, and annual reception for one year


  • “As a published author of fiction and non-fiction, my time as an NBCC Emerging Critics Fellow has been immensely valuable  — giving me a comfortable and inclusive forum to learn how to partake in the national conversation about books, publishing, and prizes in America. I’ve met so many passionate, smart and kind people with whom I will remain friends for years to come. I got to spend a year ‘inside’ the erudite and necessary field of literary criticism and for me — for whom books have always been a lifeline and an immense pleasure — the experience has been priceless.” Novelist and critic Rishi Reddi, 2021-2022 Emerging Critic Fellow
  • “The Emerging Critics Fellow program is a one-of-kind, long-term and invaluable experience for professionals at every level of criticism knowledge, whether you have multiple bylines or have recently started reviewing on your personal blog. It is a fantastic opportunity to explore best practices, develop critical skills and even garner writing opportunities. Even better: you’ll get to learn from and collaborate with a diversity of industry mentors and peers. There’s no other program like it anywhere else, and somehow, it’s free.” Mandana Chaffa, founder and editor-in-chief of Nowruz Journal, 2021-2022 Emerging Critic Fellow
  • “The Emerging Critics Fellowship has been life-changing for me. When I applied, I was writing book reviews just for myself on a private blog. I had no knowledge of the process behind getting books in advance, or how to pitch reviews to outlets… I’ve learned everything I needed to know, and have since been able to spearhead literary coverage for the magazine I work most consistently with. I’ve also been empowered to take an active role in the NBCC, which has led to my participation as a board member. Because of the ECF, I’m now fully immersed in a world that I’ve longed to be a part of for years. I can’t recommend it enough to lovers of literature and criticism.” Essayist and journalist Willow Naomi Curry, 2021-2022 Emerging Critic Fellow
  • “The NBCC Emerging Critics fellowship was a wonderful experience. Not only because it connected me to a vibrant and generous community of critics, but because it helped me —through webinars, mixers, and conversations — to define my own relationship with this important work. I went into my fellowship year feeling the isolation of an outsider and came out with a new network of friends and mentors.” Yohanca Delgado, 2021-2023 Wallace Stegner fellow, 2022 National Endowment for the Arts recipient, and 2021-2022 NBCC Emerging Critics Fellow

TO APPLY via Submittable:

Fill out the contact form: include your name/pronunciation, pronouns, phone number, email address, website, two references (with contact info), and a short bio (50-100 words)

Upload as attachments:

  • Resume/CV
  • Statement of purpose (300-500 words): What are your interests as a critic? How will you benefit from the NBCC Emerging Critics Fellowship program? Why are you an ideal candidate?
  • 3 writing samples that demonstrate your ability to think critically

Please be mindful of the specific application requirements. Incomplete applications will be disqualified. Late applications will not be accepted. Please submit early to avoid technical issues.

References will need to fill out a short form and should be able to speak to your commitment to literary criticism. We will not require a letter of recommendation. We are mindful that requesting references may present a barrier to application for those who have faced disadvantages in academia, publishing, and journalism. Please note we do not expect your references to hold a specific position within these industries. Rather, we hope you will name references who understand your strengths as a critical thinker and candidate for the fellowship.

We strive to create inclusive, accessible programs that enable all individuals, including individuals with disabilities, to engage fully. To request an accommodation, or for inquiries about accessibility related to the Emerging Critics Fellowship, contact the current VP/Emerging Critics.

Given the competitive nature of the selection process for this fellowship, we recommend careful selection of your writing samples. Though each application will be assessed holistically, fellows will be selected primarily based on the strength of their writing samples. Therefore, we encourage you to submit your best work.

The selection decisions of the National Book Critics Circle are final and not subject to review. We regret that due to the high volume of applications, we will not be able to provide any individualized feedback at any point during or after the application process. Winners of the Emerging Critics Fellowship are not eligible for any other NBCC awards or prizes in the year of their fellowship.

The National Book Critics Circle does not discriminate based upon age, color, national origin, physical or mental disability, race, religion, creed, gender, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression, marital status, status with regard to public assistance, status as a veteran, or any other characteristic protected by federal, state or local law.