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.

2003 Winners & Finalists

Fiction Winner

  • Edward P. Jones, The Known World (Amistad)

Fiction Finalists

  • Monica Ali, Brick Lane (Scribner)
  • Richard Powers, The Time of Our Singing (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
  • Tobias Wolff, Old School (Knopf)
  • Caryl Phillips, A Distant Shore (Knopf)

General Nonfiction Winner

  • Paul Hendrickson, Sons of Mississippi: A Story of Race and Its Legacy (Knopf)

General Nonfiction Finalists

  • Caroline Alexander, The Bounty: The True Story of the Mutiny on the Bounty (Viking Press)
  • Anne Applebaum, Gulag (Doubleday)
  • Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx (Scribner)
  • William T. Vollmann, Rising Up and Rising Down (McSweeneys)

Biography Winner

  • William Taubman, Khrushchev: The Man and His Era (Norton)

Biography Finalists

  • Paul Elie, The Life You Save May Be Your Own: An American Pilgrimage (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
  • Blake Bailey, A Tragic Honesty: The Life and Work of Richard Yates (Picador)
  • George Marsden, Jonathan Edwards: A Life (Yale University Press)
  • Carol Loeb Shloss, Lucia Joyce: To Dance in the Wake (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

Poetry Winner

  • Susan Stewart, Columbarium (University of Chicago Press)

Poetry Finalists

  • Carolyn Forche, Blue Hour (HarperCollins)
  • Tony Hoagland, What Narcissism Means to Me (Graywolf)
  • Venus Khoury-Ghata, translated by Marilyn Hacker, She Says (Graywolf)
  • Mary Szybist, Granted (Alice James Books)

Criticism Winner

  • Rebecca Solnit, River of Shadows (Viking Press)

Criticism Finalists

  • Dagoberto Gilb, Gritos (Grove)
  • Nick Hornby, Songbook (McSweeneys)
  • Ross King, Michelangelo & the Popes Ceiling (Walker)
  • Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing Award Winner

  • Scott McLemee

Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award Winner

  • Studs Terkel