Previous NBCC winners Rigoberto Gonzalez, Margo Jefferson and Anthony Marra announce this year's finalists for the awards.

Previous NBCC winners Christopher Bonanos, Margo Jefferson and Anthony Marra announce this year's finalists for the awards. (Photo by Kerri Arsenault)

The National Book Critics Circle board announced the finalists for its annual awards at a party on Saturday night in New York.

The names of the finalists –as well as the winners of the first book award, the critics’ award, and the lifetime achievement award—were read by previous winners of the NBCC awards: Margo Jefferson, Rigoberto Gonzalez, Christopher Bonanos and Anthony Marra.

Here are the finalists:


Laura Cumming, Five Days Gone: The Mystery of My Mother’s Disappearance as a Child (Scribner)
Ronan Farrow, Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators (Little, Brown)
Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman, Sounds Like Titanic: A Memoir (W. W. Norton)
Mira Jacob, Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations (One World)
Chanel Miller, Know My Name: A Memoir (Viking) 

Charles King, Gods of the Upper Air: How A Circle of Renegade Anthropologists Reinvented Race, Sex, and Gender in the Twentieth Century (Doubleday)  
 Josh Levin, The Queen: The Forgotten Life Behind an American Myth (Little, Brown)   
Lucasta Miller, L.E.L.: The Lost Life and Scandalous Death of Letitia Elizabeth Landon, the Celebrated ‘Female Byron’ (Knopf)
 George Packer, Our Man: Richard Holbrooke and the End of the American Century (Knopf)
Sonia Purnell, A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II (Viking)  

Former NBCC award winner Rigoberto Gonzalez tweets out the poetry finalists.

Former NBCC award winner Rigoberto Gonzalez tweets out the poetry finalists.


Hanif Abdurraqib, Go Ahead in the Rain (University of Texas Press)
Lydia Davis, Essays One (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Saidiya Hartman, Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Social Upheaval (W.W. Norton)
Peter Schjeldahl, Hot, Cold, Heavy, Light, 100 Art Writings 1988-2018 (Abrams)
Maria Tumarkin, Axiomatic (Transit Books)

Edwidge Danticat, Everything Inside (Knopf)
Myla Goldberg, Feast Your Eyes (Scribner)
Ben Lerner, The Topeka School (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) 
Valeria Luiselli, Lost Children Archive (Knopf)
Colson Whitehead, The Nickel Boys (Doubleday)
Kate Brown, Manual for Survival: A Chernobyl Guide to the Future (W.W. Norton)
Peter Hessler, The Buried: An Archaeology of the Egyptian Revolution (Penguin Press) 
Patrick Radden Keefe, Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland. (Doubleday)
Walt Odets, Out of the Shadows: Reimagining Gay Men’s Lives (Farrar, Straus and Girioux)
Rachel Louise Snyder, No Visible Bruises: What We Don’t Know About Domestic Violence Can Kill Us (Bloomsbury)  

Jericho Brown, The Tradition (Copper Canyon Press)
Ilya Kaminsky, Deaf Republic (Graywolf Press)
Morgan Parker, Magical Negro (Tin House)
Mary Ruefle, Dunce (Wave Books)
 Brian Teare, Doomstead Days (Nightboat Books)

And here are the winners of the three special awards:

Katy Waldman

Katy Waldman is a staff writer at The New Yorker. Previously, she was a staff writer at Slate, where she wrote about language, culture, and politics, and hosted the Slate Audio Book Club podcast.

Balakian Finalists:

David Biespiel
Josephine Livingstone
Wendy Smith
David Ulin
Sarah M. Broom, The Yellow House: A Memoir (Grove)

Sarah M. Broom is a trained journalist and author. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, O, The Oprah Magazine and elsewhere. In 2016, She received the prestigious Whiting Award for Creative Nonfiction, which allowed her to finish her first book, THE YELLOW HOUSE (Grove Press), which won the National Book Award in November 2019. Broom received her undergraduate degree in anthropology and mass communications from the University of North Texas before earning a Master’s degree in Journalism from the University of California, Berkeley. She began her writing career as a newspaper journalist working in Rhode Island, Dallas, New Orleans and Hong Kong (for TIME Asia). Broom also worked as an editor at O, The Oprah Magazine for several years. Broom also worked extensively in the nonprofit word, including as Executive Director of the global nonprofit, Village Health Works, which has offices in Burundi and New York. She taught nonfiction in Columbia University’s creative writing department. She is a native New Orleanian, the youngest of twelve children. She lives in New York City.

John Leonard Finalists:
Taffy Brodesser-Akner, Fleishman Is In Trouble (Random House)
Chia-Chia Lin, The Unpassing (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
T Kira Madden, Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls: A Memoir (Bloomsbury)
Julia Phillips, Disappearing Earth (Knopf)
Jia Tolentino, Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion (Random House)
Bryan Washington, Lot: Stories (Riverhead)

Naomi Shihab Nye

Naomi Shihab Nye was born in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1952, the daughter of a Palestinian refugee father and an American mother, and raised in Jerusalem and San Antonio, Texas. She is a poet, novelist and songwriter who has dedicated her career to teaching poetry, advocating for peace across the world and fighting discrimination against Arab Americans. Her books include Different Ways to Pray (1980), Hugging the Jukebox (1982), Red Suitcase (1994) and The Tiny Journalist (2019). In 2019, she became the first Arab American to be named the Young People’s Poet Laureate. She lives in San Antonio.

The awards will be announced on March 12 at a free ceremony at the New School in New York.


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