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.

1988 Winners & Finalists

Fiction Winner

  • Bharati Mukherjee, The Middleman and Other Stories (Grove Press)

Fiction Finalists

  • Don DeLillo, Libra (Viking)
  • Pete Dexter, Paris Trout (Random House)
  • J.F. Powers, Wheat That Springeth Green (Knopf)
  • Raymond Carver, Where I’m Calling From: New and Selected Stories (Atlantic Monthly Press)

General Nonfiction Winner

  • Taylor Branch, Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-63 (Simon & Schuster)

General Nonfiction Finalists

  • James M. McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (Oxford University Press)
  • Neil Sheehan, A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam (Random House)
  • Jane Kramer, Europeans (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
  • Eric Foner, Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877 (Harper & Row)

Biography/Autobiography Winner

  • Richard Ellmann, Oscar Wilde (Knopf)

Biography/Autobiography Finalists

  • Paul Monette, Borrowed Time: An AIDS Memoir (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich)
  • Valerie Eliot, ed., The Letters of T.S. Eliot, 1909-1922 (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich)
  • Paul Jay, ed., The Selected Correspondence of Kenneth Burke and Malcolm Cowley, 1915-1981 (Viking)
  • Robert Wright, Three Scientists and Their Gods: Looking for Meaning in an Age of Information (Times Books)

Poetry Winner

  • Donald Hall, The One Day (Ticknor & Fields)

Poetry Finalists

  • Richard Wilbur, New and Collected Poems (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich)
  • John Hollander, Harp Lake (Knopf)
  • Kenneth Koch, One Thousand Avant-Garde Plays (Knopf)
  • Thomas McGrath, Selected Poems, 1938-1988 (Copper Canyon Press)

Criticism Winner

  • Clifford Geertz, Works and Lives: The Anthropologist as Author (Stanford University Press)

Criticism Finalists

  • Nelson George, The Death of Rhythm and Blues (Pantheon)
  • Richard A. Posner, Law and Literature: A Misunderstood Relation (Harvard University Press)
  • John Hollander, Melodious Guile: Fictive Pattern in Poetic Language (Yale University Press)
  • Robert Pinsky, Poetry and the World (Ecco Press)

Reviewer’s Citation Winner

  • William Logan

Reviewer’s Citation Finalists

  • Bruce Bawer
  • Adam Hochschild
  • James Marcus
  • Phyllis Rose
  • George Scialabba