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.

2008 Winners & Finalists

Fiction Winner

  • Roberto Bolaño, 2666 (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

Fiction Finalists

  • Marilynne Robinson, Home (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
  • Aleksandar Hemon, The Lazarus Project (Riverhead)
  • M. Glenn Taylor, The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart (West Virginia University Press)
  • Elizabeth Strout, Olive Kittredge (Random House)

General Nonfiction Winner

  • Dexter Filkins, The Forever War (Knopf)

General Nonfiction Finalists

  • Drew Gilpin Faust, This Republic of Suffering: Death and the Civil War (Knopf)
  • Jane Mayer, The Dark Side (Doubleday)
  • Allan Lichtman, White Protestant Nation (Atlantic)
  • George C. Herring, From Colony to Superpower: US Foreign Relations Since 1776 (Oxford University Press)

Biography Winner

  • Patrick French, The World Is What It Is: The Authorized Biography of V.S. Naipaul (Knopf)

Biography Finalists

  • Paula J. Giddings, Ida, A Sword Among Lions: Ida B. Wells and the Campaign Against Lynching (Amistad/Knopf)
  • Steve Coll, The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in an American Century (Penguin Press)
  • Annette Gordon-Reed, The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family (Norton)
  • Brenda Wineapple, White Heat: The Friendship of Emily Dickinson & Thomas Wentworth Higginson (Knopf)


  • Ariel Sabar, My Father’s Paradise: A Son’s Search for His Jewish Past in Kurdish Iraq (Algonquin)

Autobiography/Memoir Finalists

  • Rick Bass, Why I Came West (Houghton Mifflin)
  • Helene Cooper, The House on Sugar Beach (Simon and Schuster)
  • Honor Moore, The Bishop’s Daughter (W.W. Norton)
  • Andrew X. Pham, The Eaves of Heaven (Harmony Books)

Poetry Winners

  • Juan Felipe Herrera, Half the World in Light (University of Arizona Press)
  • August Kleinzahler, Sleeping It Off in Rapid City (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

Poetry Finalists

  • Devin Johnston, Sources (Turtle Point Press)
  • Pierre Martory (trans. John Ashbery), The Landscapist (Sheep Meadow Press)
  • Brenda Shaughnessy, Human Dark With Sugar (Copper Canyon Press)

Criticism Winner

  • Seth Lerer, Children’s Literature: A Reader’s History: Reader’s History from Aesop to Harry Potter (University of Chicago Press)

Criticism Finalists

  • Richard Brody, Everything Is Cinema: The Working Life Of Jean-Luc Godard (Metropolitan Books)
  • Vivian Gornick, The Men in My Life (Boston Review/MIT)
  • Joel L. Kraemer, Maimonides: The Life and World of One of Civilization’s Greatest Minds (Doubleday)
  • Reginald Shepherd, Orpheus in the Bronx: Essays on Identity, Politics, and the Freedom of Poetry (University of Michigan Press)

Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing Winner

  • Ron Charles

Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing Finalists

  • Michael Antman
  • Kathryn Harrison
  • Laila Lalami
  • Todd Shy

Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award Winner

  • PEN American Center