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 two prizes voted on by membership: the John Leonard Prize for the best first book in any genre and the Gregg Barrios Book in Translation Prize, for the best book of any genre translated into English and published in the United States. We also award 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.

2011 Winners & Finalists

Fiction Winner

  • Edith Pearlman, Binocular Vision (Lookout Books)

Fiction Finalists

  • Teju Cole, Open City (Random House)
  • Jeffrey Eugenides, The Marriage Plot (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
  • Alan Hollinghurst, The Stranger’s Child (Knopf)
  • Dana Spiotta, Stone Arabia (Scribner)

General Nonfiction Winner

  • Maya Jasanoff, Liberty’s Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary War (Knopf)

General Nonfiction Finalists

  • Amanda Foreman, A World on Fire: Britain’s Crucial Role in the American Civil War (Random)
  • James Gleick, The Information (Pantheon)
  • Adam Hochschild, To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
  • John Jeremiah Sullivan, Pulphead: Essays (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux)

Biography Winner

  • John Lewis Gaddis, George F. Kennan: An American Life (Penguin Press)

Biography Finalists

  • Mary Gabriel, Love and Capital: Karl and Jenny Marx and the Birth of the Revolution (Little, Brown)
  • Paul Hendrickson, Hemingway’s Boat: Everything He Loved in Life, and Lost, 1934-1961 (Knopf)
  • Manning Marable, Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention (Viking)
  • Ezra F. Vogel, Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China (Belknap Press: Harvard University Press)


  • Mira Bartók, The Memory Palace (Free Press)

Autobiography/Memoir Finalists

  • Diane Ackerman, One Hundred Names for Love: A Stroke, A Marriage, and the Language of Healing (W.W. Norton)
  • Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts, Harlem Is Nowhere: A Journey to the Mecca of Black America (Little, Brown)
  • Luis J. Rodríguez, It Calls You Back: An Odyssey Through Love, Addiction, Revolutions, and Healing (Touchstone)
  • Deb Olin Unferth, Revolution: The Year I Fell in Love and Went to Join the War (Henry Holt)

Poetry Winner

  • Laura Kasischke, Space, in Chains (Copper Canyon Press)

Poetry Finalists

  • Forrest Gander, Core Samples from the World (New Directions)
  • Aracelis Girmay, Kingdom Animalia (BOA Editions)
  • Yusef Komunyakaa, The Chameleon Couch (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux)
  • Bruce Smith, Devotions (University of Chicago Press)

Criticism Winner

  • Geoff Dyer, Otherwise Known as the Human Condition: Selected Essays and Reviews (Graywolf)

Criticism Finalists

  • David Bellos, Is That a Fish in Your Ear?: Translation and the Meaning of Everything (Faber & Faber)
  • Jonathan Lethem, The Ecstasy of Influence (Doubleday)
  • Dubravka Ugresic, Karaoke Culture (Open Letter)
  • Ellen Willis, Out of the Vinyl Deeps: Ellen Willis on Rock Music (University of Minnesota Press)

Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing Winner

  • Kathryn Schulz

Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing Finalists

  • William Deresiewicz
  • Ruth Franklin
  • Garth Risk Hallberg
  • Kathryn Harrison

Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award Winner

  • Robert B. Silvers