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.

1981 Winners & Finalists

Fiction Winner

  • John Updike, Rabbit Is Rich (Knopf)

Fiction Finalists

  • Robert Stone, A Flag for Sunrise (Knopf)
  • Russell Hoban, Riddley Walker (Summit)
  • Donald Barthelme, Sixty Stories (Putnam)
  • Leonard Michaels, The Men’s Club (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

General Nonfiction Winner

  • Stephen Jay Gould, The Mismeasure of Man (Norton)

General Nonfiction Finalists

  • James Fallows, National Defense (Random House)
  • T.J. Jackson Lears, No Place of Grace: Antimodernism and the Transformation of American Culture, 1880-1920 (Pantheon)
  • Dumas Malone, The Sage of Monticello: Jefferson and His Time, Volume Six (Little, Brown)
  • Erving Goffman, Forms of Talk (University of Pennsylvania Press)

Poetry Winner

  • A.R. Ammons, A Coast of Trees (Norton)

Poetry Finalists

  • Douglas Crase, The Revisionist (Little, Brown)
  • Daniel Hoffman, Brotherly Love (Random House/Vintage)
  • Donald Finkel, What Manner of Beast (Atheneum)
  • Edward Hirsch, The Sleepwalkers (Knopf)

Criticism Winner

  • Virgil Thomson, A Virgil Thomson Reader (Houghton Mifflin)

Criticism Finalists

  • Guy Davenport, The Geography of the Imagination: Forty Essays (North Point Press)
  • Martin Gardner, Science: Good, Bad and Bogus (Prometheus Books)
  • Edward Mendelson, Early Auden (Viking)
  • Thomas G. Bergin, Boccaccio (Viking)