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 the John Leonard Prize for the best first book in any genre, voted on by NBCC membership; 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. Beginning in 2023, we’ll award the Gregg Barrios Book in Translation Prize, for the best book of any genre translated into English and published in the United States.

2017 Winners & Finalists


  • Joan Silber, Improvement (Counterpoint)
  • Mohsin Hamid, Exit West (Riverhead)
  • Alice McDermott, The Ninth Hour (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux)
  • Arundhati Roy, The Ministry of Utomst Happiness (Knopf)
  • Jesmyn Ward, Sing, Unburied (Scribner)


  • Frances FitzGerald, The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America (Simon & Schuster)
  • Jack E. Davis, The Gulf: The Making of An American Sea (Liveright)
  • Masha Gessen, The Future is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia (Riverhead)
  • Kapka Kassabova, Border: A Journey to the Edge of Europe (Graywolf)
  • Adam Rutherford, A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived: The Human Story Retold Through Our Genes (The Experiment)


  • Caroline Fraser, Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder (Metropolitan Books)
  • Edmund Gordon, The Invention of Angela Carter: A Biography (Oxford University Press)
  • Howard Markel, The Kelloggs: The Battling Brothers of Battle Creek (Pantheon)
  • William Taubman, Gorbachev: His Life and Times (W. W. Norton)
  • Kenneth Whyte, Hoover: An Extraordinary Life in Extraordinary Times (Knopf)


  • Xiaolu Guo, Nine Continents: A Memoir In and Out of China (Grove)
  • Thi Bui, The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir (Abrams)
  • Roxane Gay, Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body (Harper)
  • Henry Marsh, Admissions: Life As a Brain Surgeon (Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martins)
  • Ludmilla Petrushevskaya, The Girl From the Metropol Hotel: Growing Up in Communist Russia, translated by Anna Summers (Penguin)


  • Layli Long Soldier, Whereas (Graywolf)
  • Nuar Alsadir, Fourth Person Singular (Oxford University Press)
  • James Longenback, Earthling (W. W. Norton)
  • Frank Ormsby, The Darkness of Snow (Wake Forest University Press)
  • Ana Ristovic, Directions for Use, translated by Steven Teref and Maja Teref (Zephyr Press)


  • Carina Chocano, You Play the Girl: On Playboy Bunnies, Stepford Wives, Trainwrecks, & Other Mixed Messages (HMH/Mariner)
  • Edwidge Danticat, The Art of Death: Writing the Final Story (Graywolf)
  • Camille T. Dungy, Guidebook to Relative Strangers: Journeys into Race, Motherhood and History (W.W. Norton)
  • Valeria Luiselli, Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions (Coffee House)
  • Kevin Young, The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts and Fake News (Graywolf)

    John Leonard Prize

  • Carmen Maria Machado, Her Body and Other Parties (Graywolf)