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The National Book Critics Circle Awards 2019


The National Book Critics Circle Awards 2019

The finalists for the 2019 National Book Critics Circle Awards were announced in six categories: Autobiography, Biography, Criticism, Fiction, Nonfiction and Poetry. The winners will be announced at a celebration on March 12th at the New School in New York City.

In addition, the recipients of three annual honors --- the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing, the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award, and the John Leonard Award for Best First Book --- were announced.

Founded in 1974, the National Book Critics Circle Awards are given annually to honor outstanding writing and to foster a national conversation about reading, criticism and literature. The awards are open to any book published in the United States in English (including translations). The NBCC comprises more than 750 critics and editors from leading newspapers, magazines and online publications.

For more information about the National Book Critics Circle and the National Book Critics Circle Awards, go to


2019 Finalists



  • FIVE DAYS GONE: The Mystery of My Mother’s Disappearance as a Child, by Laura Cumming (Scribner)
  • CATCH AND KILL: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators, by Ronan Farrow (Little, Brown)
  • SOUNDS LIKE TITANIC: A Memoir, by Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman (W.W. Norton)
  • GOOD TALK: A Memoir in Conversations, by Mira Jacob (One World)
  • KNOW MY NAME: A Memoir, by Chanel Miller (Viking)


  • GODS OF THE UPPER AIR: How A Circle of Renegade Anthropologists Reinvented Race, Sex, and Gender in the Twentieth Century, by Charles King (Doubleday)
  • THE QUEEN: The Forgotten Life Behind an American Myth, by Josh Levin (Little, Brown)
  • L.E.L.: The Lost Life and Scandalous Death of Letitia Elizabeth Landon, the Celebrated “Female Byron” by Lucasta Miller (Knopf)
  • OUR MAN: Richard Holbrooke and the End of the American Century, by George Packer (Knopf)
  • A WOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II, by Sonia Purnell (Viking)


  • GO AHEAD IN THE RAIN by Hanif Abdurraqib (University of Texas Press)
  • ESSAYS ONE by Lydia Davis (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
  • WAYWARD LIVES, BEAUTIFUL EXPERIMENTS: Intimate Histories of Social Upheaval, by Saidiya Hartman (W.W. Norton)
  • HOT, COLD, HEAVY, LIGHT, 100 Art Writings 1988-2018, by Peter Schjeldahl (Abrams)
  • AXIOMATIC by Maria Tumarkin (Transit Books)


  • EVERYTHING INSIDE by Edwidge Danticat (Knopf)
  • FEAST YOUR EYES by Myla Goldberg (Scribner)
  • THE TOPEKA SCHOOL by Ben Lerner (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
  • LOST CHILDREN ARCHIVE by Valeria Luiselli (Knopf)
  • THE NICKEL BOYS by Colson Whitehead (Doubleday)


  • MANUAL FOR SURVIVAL: A Chernobyl Guide to the Future, by Kate Brown (W.W. Norton)
  • THE BURIED: An Archaeology of the Egyptian Revolution, by Peter Hessler (Penguin Press)
  • SAY NOTHING: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland, by Patrick Radden Keefe (Doubleday)
  • OUT OF THE SHADOWS: Reimagining Gay Men’s Lives, by Walt Odets (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
  • NO VISIBLE BRUISES: What We Don’t Know About Domestic Violence Can Kill Us, by Rachel Louise Snyder (Bloomsbury)


  • THE TRADITION by Jericho Brown (Copper Canyon Press)
  • DEAF REPUBLIC by Ilya Kaminsky (Graywolf Press)
  • MAGICAL NEGRO by Morgan Parker (Tin House)
  • DUNCE by Mary Ruefle (Wave Books)
  • DOOMSTEAD DAYS by Brian Teare (Nightboat Books)

The Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing

  • Katy Waldman

The Ivan Sandrof Award for Lifetime Achievement

  • Naomi Shihab Nye

The John Leonard Award for Best First Book

  • THE YELLOW HOUSE: A Memoir, by Sarah M. Broom (Grove)