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.

1980 Winners & Finalists

Fiction Winner

  • Shirley Hazzard, The Transit of Venus (Viking)

Fiction Finalists

  • E.L. Doctorow, Loon Lake (Random House)
  • Anne Tyler, Morgan’s Passing (Knopf)
  • Walker Percy, The Second Coming (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
  • William Maxwell, So Long, See You Tomorrow (Knopf)

General Nonfiction Winner

  • Ronald Steel, Walter Lippman and the American Century (Atlantic-Little, Brown)

General Nonfiction Finalists

  • Jean Strouse, Alice James: A Biography (Houghton Mifflin)
  • Maxine Hong Kingston, China Men (Knopf)
  • John Boswell, Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality: Gay People in Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the 14th Century (University of Chicago Press)
  • Justin D. Kaplan, Walt Whitman: A Life (Simon & Schuster)

Poetry Winner

  • Frederick Seidel, Sunrise (Viking/Penguin)

Poetry Finalists

  • Joseph Brodsky, A Part of Speech (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
  • Robert Penn Warren, Being Here: Poetry, 1977-1980 (Random House)
  • James Schuyler, The Morning of the Poem (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
  • James Merrill, Scripts for the Pageant (Atheneum)

Criticism Winner

  • Helen Vendler, Part of Nature: Modern American Poets (Harvard University Press).

Criticism Finalists

  • Paul Fussell, Abroad: British Literary Traveling Between the Wars (Oxford University Press)
  • R.P. Blackmur, ed. by Veronica A. Makowsky, Henry Adams (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich)
  • Vladimir Nabokov, ed. by Fredson Bowers, Lectures on Literature (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich)
  • Barbara Novak, Nature and Culture: American Landscape Painting, 1825-1875 (Oxford University Press)