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.

2007 Winners & Finalists

Fiction Winner

  • Junot Diaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Riverhead)

Fiction Finalists

  • Vikram Chandra, Sacred Games (HarperCollins)
  • Hisham Matar, In The Country of Men (Dial Press)
  • Joyce Carol Oates, The Gravedigger’s Daughter (Ecco)
  • Marianne Wiggins, The Shadow Catcher (Simon & Schuster)

General Nonfiction Winner

  • Harriet Washington, Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present (Doubleday)

General Nonfiction Finalists

  • Philip Gura, American Transcendentalism (Hill & Wang)
  • Daniel Walker Howe, What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America 1815-1848 (Oxford University Press)
  • Tim Weiner, Legacy of Ashes: A History of the CIA (Doubleday)
  • Alan Weisman, The World Without Us, Thomas Dunne (BKs/St. Martin’s)

Biography Winner

  • Tim Jeal, Stanley: The Impossible Life of Africa’s Greatest Explorer (Yale University Press)

Biography Finalists

  • Hermione Lee, Edith Wharton (Knopf)
  • Arnold Rampersad, Ralph Ellison (Knopf)
  • John Richardson, The Life Of Picasso: The Triumphant Years, 1917-1932 (Knopf)
  • Claire Tomalin, Thomas Hardy (Penguin Press)


  • Edwidge Danticat, Brother, I’m Dying (Knopf)

Autobiography/Memoir Finalists

  • Joshua Clark, Heart Like Water: Surviving Katrina and Life in Its Disaster Zone (Free Press)
  • Joyce Carol Oates, The Journals of Joyce Carol Oates, 1973–1982 (Ecco)
  • Sara Paretsky, Writing in an Age of Silence (Verso)
  • Anna Politkovskaya, Russian Diary: A Journalist’s Final Account of Life, Corruption and Death in Putin’s Russia (Random House)

Poetry Winner

  • Mary Jo Bang, Elegy (Graywolf)

Poetry Finalists

  • Matthea Harvey, Modern Life (Graywolf)
  • Michael O’Brien, Sleeping and Waking (Flood)
  • Tom Pickard, The Ballad of Jamie Allan (Flood)
  • Tadeusz Rozewicz, New Poems (Archipelago)

Criticism Winner

  • Alex Ross, The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux)

Criticism Finalists

  • Joan Acocella, Twenty-Eight Artists and Two Saints (Pantheon)
  • Julia Alvarez, Once Upon a Quniceanera (Viking)
  • Susan Faludi, The Terror Dream (Metropolitan/Holt)
  • Ben Ratliff, Coltrane: The Story of a Sound (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux)

Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing Winner

  • Sam Anderson

Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing Finalists

  • Brooke Allen
  • Ron Charles
  • Walter Kirn
  • Adam Kirsch

Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award Winner

  • Emilie Buchwald