The National Book Critics Circle Award

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.

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