National Book Critics Circle Finalists Announced: Full List Of Award Nominees

The National Book Critics Circle has announced their finalists for their 2016 awards.

The announcement was made on Tuesday, January 17, and revealed the 30 finalists in six categories- autobiography, biography, criticism, fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. The winners of The Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award, The John Leonard Prize, and Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing were also revealed.

Check out the full list of finalists below.


  • Matthew Desmond, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City
  • Ibram X. Kendi, Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America
  • Jane Mayer, Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right
  • Viet Thanh Nguyen, Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War
  • John Edgar Wideman, Writing to Save a Life: The Louis Till File


  • Marion Coutts, The Iceberg
  • Jenny Diski, In Gratitude
  • Hope Jahren, Lab Girl
  • Hisham Matar, The Return: Fathers, Sons, and the Land in Between
  • Kao Kalia Yang, The Song Poet: A Memoir of My Father


  • Nigel Cliff, Moscow Nights: The Van Cliburn Story
  • Ruth Franklin, Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life
  • Joe Jackson, Black Elk: The Life of an American Visionary
  • Michael Tisserand, Krazy: George Herriman, a Life in Black and White
  • Frances Wilson, Guilty Thing: A Life of Thomas De Quincey


  • Ishion Hutchinson, House of Lords and Commons
  • Tyehimba Jess, Olio
  • Bernadette Mayer, Works and Days
  • Robert Pinsky, At the Foundling Hospital
  • Monica Youn, Blackacre


  • Carol Anderson, White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide
  • Mark Greif, Against Everything: Essays
  • Alice Kaplan, Looking for The Stranger: Albert Camus and the Life of a Literary Classic
  • Olivia Laing, The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone
  • Peter Orner, Am I Alone Here?: Notes on Living to Read and Reading to Live

Margaret Atwood is the recipient of the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award. Atwood is a poet, novelist, story writer, essayist, and environmental activist, who has written “16 novels, eight collections of short stories, eight children’s books, 17 volumes of poetry, 10 collections of nonfiction, as well as small press editions, television and radio scripts, plays, recordings, and editions.”

Yaa Gyasi’s debut novel, Homegoing (Alfred A. Knopf) received the fourth annual John Leonard Prize, which was established to “recognize outstanding first books in any genre and named in honor of founding NBCC member John Leonard.”

Michelle Dean is the recipient of the 2016 Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing. Her criticisms regularly appear in The Guardian and the New Republic, along with other publications.

The National Book Critics Circle was founded in 1974, and the first awards ceremony took place in 1975. The organization is comprised of 1,000 working critics and book-review editors and is one of the most prestigious awards to receive in the publishing industry. The 24-member board of directors nominate, evaluate and select the finalists.

The National Book Critics Circle Awards will be presented on March 16, 2017, at the New School in New York City.

What do you think about this year’s National Book Critics Circle Awards finalists? Were your favorite authors on the list? Leave your comments below.

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