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.

1987 Winners & Finalists

Fiction Winner

  • Philip Roth, The Counterlife (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

Fiction Finalists

  • Jane Smiley, The Age of Grief (Knopf)
  • Toni Morrison, Beloved (Knopf)
  • Tom Wolfe, The Bonfire of the Vanities (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
  • Wallace Stegner, Crossing to Safety (Random House)

General Nonfiction Winner

  • Richard Rhodes, The Making of the Atomic Bomb (Simon & Schuster)

General Nonfiction Finalists

  • Randy Shilts, And the Band Played On: Politics, People and the AIDS Epidemic (St. Martin’s)
  • James Miller, Democracy Is in the Streets, (Simon & Schuster)
  • Charles Mee, The Genius of the People (Harper & Row)
  • Stephen Jay Gould, Time’s Arrow, Time’s Cycle (Harvard University)

Biography/Autobiography Winner

  • Donald Howard, Chaucer: His Life, His Work, His World (Dutton)

Biography/Autobiography Finalists

  • Annie Dillard, An American Childhood (Harper & Row)
  • Prudence Crowther, ed., Don’t Tread on Me: The Selected Letters of S.J. Perelman (Viking)
  • Paul Taylor, Private Domain (Knopf)
  • Arthur Miller, Timebends: A Life (Grove Press)

Poetry Winner

  • C.K. Williams, Flesh and Blood (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

Poetry Finalists

  • John Ashbery, April Galleons (Viking)
  • Alan Shapiro, Happy Hour (University of Chicago)
  • May Swenson, In Other Words (Knopf)
  • Donald Justice, The Sunset Maker (Atheneum)

Criticism Winner

  • Edwin Denby, Dance Writings (Knopf)

Criticism Finalists

  • Robert Lowell, Collected Prose (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
  • Guy Davenport, Every Force Evolves a Form (North Point Press)
  • Arlene Croce, Sight Lines (Knopf)
  • Joseph Horowitz, Understanding Toscanini (Knopf)

Ivan Sandrof/NBCC Board Award Winner

  • Robert Giroux

Reviewer’s Citation Winner

  • Josh Rubins

Reviewer’s Citation Finalists

  • Mindy Aloff
  • William Logan
  • Jack Miles
  • Jonathan Penner
  • George Scialabba