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.

2016 Winners & Finalists

Fiction Winner

  • Louise Erdrich, LaRose (Harper)

Fiction Finalists

  • Michael Chabon, Moonglow (Harper)
  • Adam Haslett, Imagine Me Gone (Little, Brown)
  • Ann Patchett, Commonwealth (Harper)
  • Zadie Smith, Swing Time (Penguin Press)

General Nonfiction Winner

  • Matthew Desmond, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City (Crown)

General Nonfiction Finalists

  • Ibram X. Kendi, Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America (Nation Books)
  • Jane Mayer, Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right (Doubleday)
  • Viet Thanh Nguyen, Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War (Harvard University Press)
  • John Edgar Wideman, Writing to Save a Life: The Louis Till File (Scribner)

Biography Winner

  • Ruth Franklin, Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life (Liveright)

Biography Finalists

  • Nigel Cliff, Moscow Nights: The Van Cliburn Story (Harper)
  • Joe Jackson, Black Elk: The Life of an American Visionary (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
  • Michael Tisserand, Krazy: George Herriman, a Life in Black and White (Harper)
  • Frances Wilson, Guilty Thing: A Life of Thomas De Quincey (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)


  • Hope Jahren, Lab Girl (Alfred A. Knopf)

Autobiography/Memoir Finalists

  • Marion Coutts, The Iceberg (Black Cat Press)
  • Jenny Diski, In Gratitude (Bloomsbury)
  • Hisham Matar, The Return: Fathers, Sons, and the Land in Between (Random House)
  • Kao Kalia Yang, The Song Poet: A Memoir of My Father (Metropolitan Books)

Poetry Winner

  • Ishion Hutchinson, House of Lords and Commons (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Poetry Finalists

  • Tyehimba Jess, Olio (Wave Books)
  • Bernadette Mayer, Works and Days (New Directions)
  • Robert Pinsky, At the Foundling Hospital (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
  • Monica Youn, Blackacre (Graywolf Press)

Criticism Winner

  • Carol Anderson, White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide (Bloomsbury)

Criticism Finalists

  • Mark Greif, Against Everything: Essays (Pantheon)
  • Alice Kaplan, Looking for The Stranger: Albert Camus and the Life of a Literary Classic (University of Chicago Press)
  • Olivia Laing, The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone (Picador)
  • Peter Orner, Am I Alone Here?: Notes on Living to Read and Reading to Live (Catapult)

John Leonard Prize

  • Yaa Gyasi, Homegoing (Alfred A. Knopf)

Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing Winner

  • Michelle Dean

Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing Finalists

  • Julia M. Klein
  • Christian Lorentzen
  • Becca Rothfeld
  • Leo Robson

Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award Winner

  • Margaret Atwood

The NBCC Emerging Critics Fellowships

  • Taylor Brorby
  • Paul W. Gleason
  • Zachary Graham
  • Yalie Saweeda Kamara
  • Summer McDonald
  • Ismail Muhamad
  • Heather Scott Partington