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.

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