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.

2009 Winners & Finalists

Fiction Winner

  • Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall (Holt)

Fiction Finalists

  • Bonnie Jo Campbell, American Salvage (Wayne State University Press)
  • Marlon James, The Book of Night Women (Riverhead)
  • Michelle Huneven, Blame (Sarah Crichton Books/FSG)
  • Jayne Anne Phillips, Lark and Termite (Knopf)

General Nonfiction Winner

  • Richard Holmes, The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science (Pantheon)

General Nonfiction Finalists

  • Wendy Doniger, The Hindus: An Alternative History (Penguin Press)
  • Greg Grandin, Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford’s Forgotten Jungle City (Metropolitan Books)
  • Tracy Kidder, Strength in What Remains (Random House)
  • William T. Vollmann, Imperial (Viking)

Biography Winner

  • Blake Bailey, Cheever: A Life (Knopf)

Biography Finalists

  • Brad Gooch, Flannery: A Life of Flannery O’Connor (Little, Brown)
  • Benjamin Moser, Why This World: A Biography of Clarice Lispector (Oxford University Press)
  • Stanislao G. Pugliese, Bitter Spring: A Life of Ignazio Silone (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
  • Martha A. Sandweiss, Passing Strange: A Gilded Age Tale of Love and Deception Across the Color Line (Penguin Press)


  • Diana Athill, Somewhere Towards the End (Norton)

Autobiography/Memoir Finalists

  • Debra Gwartney, Live Through This: A Mother’s Memoir of Runaway Daughters and Reclaimed Love (Houghton Mifflin)
  • Mary Karr, Lit (Harper)
  • Kati Marton, Enemies of the People: My Family’s Journey to America (Simon & Schuster)
  • Edmund White, City Boy (Bloomsbury)

Poetry Winner

  • Rae Armantrout, Versed (Wesleyan)

Poetry Finalists

  • Louise Glück, A Village Life (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
  • D.A. Powell, Chronic (Graywolf Press)
  • Eleanor Ross Taylor, Captive Voices: New and Selected Poems, 1960–2008 (Louisiana State University Press)
  • Rachel Zucker, Museum of Accidents (Wave Books)

Criticism Winner

  • Eula Biss, Notes From No Man’s Land: American Essays (Graywolf Press)

Criticism Finalists

  • Stephen Burt, Close Calls with Nonsense: Reading New Poetry (Graywolf Press)
  • Morris Dickstein, Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression (Norton)
  • David Hajdu, Heroes and Villains: Essays on Music, Movies, Comics, and Culture (Da Capo Press)
  • Greg Milner, Perfecting Sound Forever: An Aural History of Recorded Music (Faber)

Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing Winner

  • Joan Acocella

Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing Finalists

  • Michael Antman
  • William Deresiewicz
  • Donna Seaman
  • Wendy Smith

Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award Winner

  • Joyce Carol Oates