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 two prizes voted on by membership: the John Leonard Prize for the best first book in any genre and the Gregg Barrios Book in Translation Prize, for the best book of any genre translated into English and published in the United States. We also award 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.

2004 Winners & Finalists

Fiction Winner

  • Marilynne Robinson, Gilead (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

Fiction Finalists

  • Edwidge Danticat, The Dew Breaker (Knopf)
  • Alan Hollinghurst, The Line of Beauty (Bloomsbury)
  • David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas (Random House)
  • Philip Roth, The Plot Against America (Houghton Mifflin)

General Nonfiction Winner

  • Diarmaid MacCulloch, The Reformation: A History (Viking)

General Nonfiction Finalists

  • Kevin Boyle, Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights and Murder in the Jazz Age (Henry Holt)
  • Edward Conlon, Blue Blood (Riverhead Books)
  • David Shipler, The Working Poor: Invisible in America (Knopf)
  • Timothy Tyson, Blood Done Sign My Name: A True Story (Crown)

Biography Winner

  • Mark Stevens & Annalyn Swan, De Kooning: An American Master (Knopf)

Biography Finalists

  • Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton (Penguin Press)
  • Bob Dylan, Chronicles: Vol. 1 (Simon & Schuster)
  • Stephen Greenblatt, Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare (W.W. Norton)
  • John Guy, Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart (Houghton Mifflin)

Poetry Winner

  • Adrienne Rich, The School Among the Ruins: Poems 2000-2004 (W.W. Norton)

Poetry Finalists

  • Brigit Pegeen Kelly, The Orchard (BOA Editions)
  • D.A. Powell, Cocktails (Graywolf)
  • James Richardson, Interglacial (Ausable Press)
  • Gary Snyder, Danger on Peaks (Shoemaker & Hoard)

Criticism Winner

  • Patrick Neate, Where You’re At: Notes From the Frontline of a Hip-Hop Planet (Riverhead Books)

Criticism Finalists

  • Richard Howard, Paper Trail: Selected Prose, 1965-2003 (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
  • Graham Robb, Strangers: Homosexual Love in the 19th Century (W.W. Norton)
  • Craig Seligman, Sontag & Kael: Opposites Attract Me (Counterpoint)
  • James Wood, The Irresponsible Self: On Laughter and the Novel (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing Winner

  • David Orr

Ivan R. Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award Winner

  • Louis Rubin Jr.