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 two prizes voted on by membership: the John Leonard Prize for the best first book in any genre and the Gregg Barrios Book in Translation Prize, for the best book of any genre translated into English and published in the United States. We also award 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.

1986 Winners & Finalists

Fiction Winner

  • Reynolds Price, Kate Vaiden (Atheneum)

Fiction Finalists

  • Louise Erdrich, The Beet Queen (Holt)
  • Peter Taylor, A Summons to Memphis (Knopf)
  • Thomas Williams, The Moon Pinnacle (Doubleday)
  • John Updike, Roger’s Version (Knopf)

General Nonfiction Winner

  • Barry Lopez, Arctic Dreams (Scribner’s)

General Nonfiction Finalists

  • Bernard Bailyn, Voyagers to the West: A Passage in the Peopling of America on the Eve of the Revolution (Knopf)
  • Jonathan Evan Maslow, Bird of Life, Bird of Death: A Naturalist’s Journey Through a Land of Political Turmoil (Simon & Schuster)
  • John W. Dower, War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War (Pantheon)
  • Marc Reisner, Cadillac Desert: The American West and its Disappearing Water (Viking)

Biography/Autobiography Winner

  • Arnold Rampersad, The Life of Langston Hughes, Vol. I: 1902-1941 (Oxford)

Biography/Autobiography Finalists

  • Jonathan Brown, Velazquez: Painter and Courtier (Yale)
  • Theodore Rosengarten, Tombee: Portrait of a Cotton Planter (Morrow)
  • Art Spiegelman, Maus: A Survivor’s Tale (Pantheon)
  • Joseph Frank, Dostoevsky: The Stir of Liberation, 1860-1865 (Princeton)

Poetry Winner

  • Edward Hirsch, Wild Gratitude (Oxford)

Poetry Finalists

  • Irving Feldman, All of Us Here and Other Poems (Elisabeth Sifton/Viking)
  • Brad Leithauser, Cats of the Temple (Knopf)
  • Timothy Steele, Sapphics Against Anger (Random House)
  • Anne Winters, The Key to the City (University of Chicago)

Criticism Winner

  • Joseph Brodsky, Less Than One: Selected Essays (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

Criticism Finalists

  • Rene Wellek, A History of Modern Criticism: 1750-1950: Vols. 5 & 6 (Yale)
  • Jerrold Siegel, Bohemian Paris: Culture, Politics and Boundaries of Bourgeois Life (Elisabeth Sifton/Viking)
  • Leo Braudy, The Frenzy of Renown: Fame and Its History (Oxford)
  • Arthur Danto, The Philosophical Disenfranchisement of Art (Columbia University Press)