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.

1978 Winners & Finalists

Fiction Winner

  • John Cheever, The Stories of John Cheever (Knopf)

Fiction Finalists

  • John Updike, The Coup (Knopf)
  • Mary Gordon, Final Payments (Random)
  • John Irving, The World According to Garp (Robbins/Dutton)
  • Charles Simmons, Wrinkles (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

General Nonfiction Winners

  • Maureen Howard, Facts of Life (Little, Brown)
  • Garry Willis, Inventing America: Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence (Doubleday)

General Nonfiction Finalists

  • Barbara W. Tuchman, A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century (Knopf)
  • Theodore H. White, In Search of History: A Personal Adventure (Harper & Row)
  • Barrington Moore, Injustice: The Social Bases of Obedience and Revolt (Pantheon)
  • Sissela Bok, Lying: Moral Choice in Public and Private Life (Pantheon)
  • A. Scott Berg, Max Perkins: Editor of Genius (Congdon/Dutton)
  • Alfred Kazin, New York Jew (Knopf)
  • Anne Hollander, Seeing Through Clothes (Viking)
  • Peter Matthiessen, The Snow Leopard (Viking)

Poetry Winner

  • Peter Davison, ed., Hello, Darkness: The Collected Poems of L.E. Sissman (Atlantic-Little, Brown)

Poetry Finalists

  • Adrienne Rich, The Dream of a Common Language: Poems, 1974-1977 (Norton)
  • Mark Strand, The Late Hour (Atheneum)
  • May Swenson, New & Selected Things Taking Place (Atlantic-Little, Brown)
  • John Hollander, Spectral Emanations: New and Selected Poems (Atheneum)

Criticism Winner

  • Meyer Schapiro, Modern Art: 19th & 20th Centuries, Selected Papers (Braziller)

Criticism Finalists

  • Malcolm Cowley, And I Worked at the Writer’s Trade: Chapters of Literary History, 1918-1978 (Viking)
  • Eudora Welty, The Eye of the Story: Selected Essays and Reviews (Random)
  • Edward W. Said, Orientalism (Pantheon)
  • William H. Gass, The World Within the Word: Essays (Knopf)