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.

2018 Winners & Finalists


  • Anna Burns, Milkman (Graywolf)
  • Patrick Chamoiseau, Slave Old Man (The New Press)
  • Denis Johnson, The Largesse of the Sea Maiden (Random House)
  • Rachel Kushner, The Mars Room (Scribner)
  • Luis Alberto Urre, The House of Broken Angels (Little, Brown)


  • Steve Coll, Directorate S: The C.I.A. and America’s Secret Wars in Afganistan (Penguin Press)
  • Francisco Cantu, The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border (Riverhead Books)
  • Greg Lukianoff and Janathan Haidt, The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure (Penguin Press)
  • Adam Winkler, We the Corporations: How American Businesses Won Their Civil Rights (Liveright)
  • Lawrence Wright, God Save Texas: A Journey into the Soul of the Lone Star State (Knopf)


  • Christopher Bonanos, Flash: The Making of Weegee the Famous (Henry Holt & Company)
  • Craig Brown, Ninety-Nine Glimpses of Princess Margaret (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
  • Yunte Huang, Inseperable: The Original Siamese Twins and Their Rendezvous with American History (Liveright)
  • Mark Lamster, The Man in the Glass House: Philip Johnson, Architect of the Modern Century (Little, Brown)
  • Jane Leavy, The Big Fella: Babe Ruth and the World he Created (Harper/Harper Collins)


  • Nora Krug, Belonging: A German Reckons with History and Home (Scribner)
  • Ricard Beard, The Day That Went Missing: A Family’s Story (Little, Brown)
  • Nicole Chung, All You Can Ever Know: A Memoir (Catapult)
  • Rigoberto Gonzalez, What Drowns the Flowers in Your Mouth (University of Wisconsin Press)
  • Nell Painter, Old in Art School: A Memoir of Starting Over (Counterpoint)
  • Tara Westover, Educated: A Memoir (Random House)


  • Ada Limón, The Carrying (Milweed)
  • Terrance Hayes, American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin (Penguin Books)
  • Erika Meitner, Holy Moly Carry Me (Boa)
  • Diane Seuss, Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl (Graywold Press)
  • Adam Zagajewski, Asymmetry, translated by Clare Cavanagh (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)


  • Zadie Smith, Feel Free: Essays (Penguin Press)
  • Robert Christgau, Is It Still Good to Ya? Fifty Years of Rock Criticism, 1967-2017 (Duke University Press)
  • Stephen Greenblatt, Tyrant: Shakespeare on Politics (W.W. Norton)
  • Terrance Hayes, To Float in the Space Between: A Life and Work in Conversation with the Life and Work of Etheridge Knight (Wave)
  • Lacy M. Johnson, The Reckonings: Essays (Scribner)

    John Leonard Prize

  • Tommy Orange, There There (Knop)

    Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing

  • David Biespiel
  • Julia Klein
  • Becca Rothfield
  • Wendy Smith

    Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award

  • Arte Público Press