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.

1995 Winners & Finalists

Fiction Winner

  • Stanley Elkin, Mrs. Ted Bliss (Hyperion)

Fiction Finalists

  • Richard Ford, Independence Day (Knopf)
  • Richard Powers, Galatea 2.2 (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
  • Jane Smiley, Moo (Knopf)
  • Paul West, The Tent of Orange Mist (Scribner)

General Nonfiction Winner

  • Jonathan Harr, A Civil Action (Random House)

General Nonfiction Finalists

  • Nicholas Basbanes, A Gentle Madness: Bibliophiles, Bibliomanes, and the Eternal Passion for Books (Holt)
  • Madeleine Blais, In These Girls, Hope Is a Muscle (Atlantic)
  • Fox Butterfield, All God’s Children: The Bosket Family and the American Tradition of Violence (Knopf)
  • Lawrence Weschler, Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder (Pantheon)

Biography/Autobiography Winner

  • Robert Polito, Savage Art: A Biography of Jim Thompson (Knopf)

Biography/Autobiography Finalists

  • John Hockenberry, Moving Violations: War Zones, Wheelchairs and Declarations of Independence (Hyperion)
  • Mary Karr, The Liars’ Club (Viking)
  • David S. Reynolds, Walt Whitman’s America (Knopf)
  • Robert Richardson Jr., Emerson: The Mind on Fire (California)

Poetry Winner

  • William Matthews, Time & Money (Houghton Mifflin)

Poetry Finalists

  • Lynda Hull, The Only World (Harper)
  • James Merrill, A Scattering of Salts (Knopf)
  • Carl Phillips, Cortege (Graywolf)
  • Ellen Bryant Voigt, Kyrie (Norton)

Criticism Winner

  • Robert Darnton, The Forbidden Bestsellers of Pre-Revolution France (Norton)

Criticism Finalists

  • Stanley Crouch, The All-American Skin Game, or The Decoy of Race: The Long and the Short of It, 1990-1994 (Pantheon)
  • Thomas M. Disch, The Castle of Indolence: On Poetry, Poets and Poetasters (Picador)
  • John Felstiner, Paul Celan: Poet, Survivor, Jew (Yale University Press)
  • Clifford Geertz, After the Fact (Harvard University Press)

Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing Winner

  • Laurie Stone

NBCC/Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award Winners

  • Alfred Kazin
  • Elizabeth Hardwick