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.

2015 Winners & Finalists

Fiction Winner

  • Paul Beatty, The Sellout (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Fiction Finalists

  • Lauren Groff, Fates and Furies (Riverhead)
  • Valeria Luiselli, The Story of My Teeth, translated by Christina MacSweeney (Coffee House Press)
  • Anthony Marra, The Tsar of Love and Techno (Hogarth)
  • Ottessa Moshfegh, Eileen (Penguin Press)

General Nonfiction Winner

  • Sam Quinones, Dreamland: The True Story of America’s Opiate Epidemic (Bloomsbury)

General Nonfiction Finalists

  • Mary Beard, SPQR: A History of Rome (Liveright)
  • Ari Berman, Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
  • Jill Leovy, Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America (Spiegel & Grau)
  • Brian Seibert, What the Eye Hears: A History of Tap Dancing (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Biography Winner

  • Charlotte Gordon, Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Her Daughter Mary Shelley (Random House)

Biography Finalists

  • Terry Alford, Fortune’s Fool: The Life of John Wilkes Booth (Oxford University Press)
  • T.J. Stiles, Custer’s Trials: A Life on the Frontier of a New America (Alfred A. Knopf)
  • Rosemary Sullivan, Stalin’s Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva (Harper)
  • Karin Wieland, translated by Shelley Frisch, Dietrich and Riefenstahl: Hollywood, Berlin, and a Century in Two Lives (Liveright)


  • Margo Jefferson, Negroland (Pantheon)

Autobiography/Memoir Finalists

  • Elizabeth Alexander, The Light of the World (Grand Central Publishing)
  • Vivian Gornick, The Odd Woman and the City (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
  • George Hodgman, Bettyville (Viking)
  • Helen Macdonald, H Is for Hawk (Grove Press)

Poetry Winner

  • Ross Gay, Catalogue of Unabashed Gratitude (University of Pittsburgh Press)

Poetry Finalists

  • Terrance Hayes, How to Be Drawn (Penguin)
  • Ada Limón, Bright Dead Things (Milkweed Editions)
  • Sinéad Morrissey, Parallax and Selected Poems (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
  • Frank Stanford, What About This: Collected Poems of Frank Stanford (Copper Canyon Press)

Criticism Winner

  • Maggie Nelson, The Argonauts (Graywolf)

Criticism Finalists

  • Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me (Spiegel & Grau)
  • Leo Damrosch, Eternity’s Sunrise: The Imaginative World of William Blake (Yale University Press)
  • Colm Tóibín, On Elizabeth Bishop (Princeton University Press)
  • James Wood, The Nearest Thing to Life (Brandeis University Press)

John Leonard Prize

  • Kirstin Valdez Quad, Night at the Fiestas (W.W. Norton & Company)

Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing Winner

  • Carlos Lozada

Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing Finalists

  • Ruth Franklin
  • James Parker
  • Roxana Robinson
  • Leo Robson

Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award Winner

  • Wendell Berry