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.

1998 Winners & Finalists

Fiction Winner

  • Alice Munro, The Love of a Good Woman (Knopf)

Fiction Finalists

  • Michael Cunningham, The Hours (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
  • David Gates, Preston Falls (Knopf)
  • Lorrie Moore, Birds of America (Knopf)
  • Lynne Tillman, No Lease on Life (Harcourt)

General Nonfiction Winner

  • Philip Gourevich, We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

General Nonfiction Finalists

  • Adam Hochschild, King Leopold’s Ghost (Houghton)
  • Ira Berlin, Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America (Belknap: Harvard)
  • Roy Porter, The Greatest Benefit to Mankind: A Medical History of Humanity (Norton)
  • Simon Winchester, The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary (HarperCollins)

Biography/Autobiography Winner

  • Sylvia Nassar, A Beautiful Mind (Simon & Schuster)

Biography/Autobiography Finalists

  • Ron Chernow, Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. (Random House)
  • Homer H. Hickman Jr., Rocket Boys: A Memoir (Delacorte)
  • David Remnick, King of the World: Muhammad Ali and the Rise of an American Hero (Random House)
  • Amanda Vaill, Everybody Was So Young: Gerald and Sara Murphy: A Lost Generation Love Story (Houghton)

Poetry Winner

  • Marie Ponsot, The Bird Catcher (Knopf)

Poetry Finalists

  • Pamela White Hadas, Self-Evidence (Triquarterly, Northwestern)
  • Thylias Moss, Last Chance for the Tarzan Holler (Persea)
  • Ann Carson, The Autobiography of Red: A Novel in Verse (Knopf)
  • Yusef Komunyakaa, Thieves of Paradise (Wesleyan)

Criticism Winner

  • Gary Giddins, Visions of Jazz: The First Century (Oxford)

Criticism Finalists

  • Geoff Dyer, Out of Sheer Rage (North Point)
  • Nelson George, Hip Hop America (Viking)
  • Harold Bloom, Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human (Riverhead: Putnam)
  • Robert Pinsky, The Sounds of Poetry (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

Nona Balakian Excellence in Reviewing Award Winner

  • Albert Mobilio