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.

2005 Winners & Finalists

Fiction Winner

  • E.L. Doctorow, The March (Random House)

Fiction Finalists

  • Mary Gaitskill, Veronica (Pantheon)
  • Andrea Levy, Small Island (Picador)
  • Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go (Knopf)
  • William T. Vollmann, Europe Central (Viking)

General Nonfiction Winner

  • Svetlana Alexievich, Voices From Chernobyl: The Oral History of Nuclear Disaster (Dalkey Archive Press)

General Nonfiction Finalists

  • Robert Fisk, The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East (Knopf)
  • Ellen Meloy, Eating Stone: Imagination and the Loss of the Wild (Pantheon)
  • Caroline Moorehead, Human Cargo: A Journey Among Refugees (Henry Holt/Metropolitan Books)
  • Anthony Shadid, Night Draws Near: Iraq’s People in the Shadow of America’s War (Henry Holt)

Biography Winner

  • Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin, American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer (Knopf)

Biography Finalists

  • Carolyn Burke, Lee Miller: A Life (Knopf)
  • Jonathan Coe, Like a Fiery Elephant: The Story of B.S. Johnson (Continuum International)
  • Doris Kearns Goodwin, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln (Simon & Schuster)
  • Ron Powers, Mark Twain: A Life (Free Press)

Autobiography/Memoir Winner

  • Francine du Plessix Gray, Them: A Memoir of Parents (Penguin Press)

Autobiography/Memoir Finalists

  • Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking (Knopf)
  • Judith Moore, Fat Girl: A True Story (Gotham Books)
  • Orhan Pamuk, Istanbul: Memories and the City (Knopf)
  • Vikram Seth, Two Lives (HarperCollins)

Poetry Winner

  • Jack Gilbert, Refusing Heaven (Knopf)

Poetry Finalists

  • Simon Armitage, The Shout (Harcourt)
  • Blas Manuel de Luna, Bent to the Earth (Carnegie Mellon Univ. Press)
  • Richard Siken, Crush (Yale University Press)
  • Ron Slate, The Incentive of the Maggot (Houghton Mifflin/Mariner Books)

Criticism Winner

  • William Logan, The Undiscovered Country: Poetry in the Age of Tin (Columbia University Press)

Criticism Finalists

  • Hal Crowther, Gather at the River: Notes From the Post-Millennial South (Louisiana State Univ. Press)
  • Arthur Danto, Unnatural Wonders (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
  • John Updike, Still Looking: Essays on American Art (Knopf)
  • Eliot Weinberger, What Happened Here: Bush Chronicles (New Directions)

Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing Winner

  • Wyatt Mason

Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing Finalists

  • Katherine Powers
  • Allen Barra
  • Carlin Romano

Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award Winner

  • Bill Henderson, author and director of The Pushcart Press