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.

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)