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.

1977 Winners & Finalists

Fiction Winner

  • Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon (Knopf)

Fiction Finalists

  • John Cheever, Falconer (Knopf)
  • Joan Didion, A Book of Common Prayer (Simon & Schuster)
  • Philip Roth, The Professor of Desire (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
  • John Sayles, Union Dues (Atlantic-Little, Brown)

General Nonfiction Winner

  • W. Jackson Bate, Samuel Johnson (Harcourt, Brace and Jovanovich).

General Nonfiction Finalists

  • Michael Herr, Dispatches (Knopf)
  • David McCullough, The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal, 1870-1914 (Simon & Schuster)
  • John McPhee, Coming Into the Country (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
  • Carl Sagan, The Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence (Random)

Poetry Winner

  • Robert Lowell, Day by Day (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Poetry Finalists

  • John Ashbery, Houseboat Days (Viking)
  • Stanley Plumly, Out-of-the-Body Travel (Ecco/Viking)
  • W.D. Snodgrass, The Fuhrer Bunker: A Cycle of Poems in Progress (Boa)
  • Gerald Stern, Lucky Life (Houghton)

Criticism Winner

  • Susan Sontag, On Photography (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Criticism Finalists

  • Arlene Croce, Afterimages (Knopf)
  • Morris Dickstein, Gates of Eden: American Culture in the Sixties (Basic)
  • Richard Poirier, Robert Frost: The Work of Knowing (Oxford University Press)
  • Gore Vidal, Matters of Fact and of Fiction: Essays, 1973-1976 (Random)