National Book Critics Circle Awards Name 2017 Finalists

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The National Book Critics Circle Awards began in 1975, and are determined by a jury of working critics and book-review editors. Today, they announced their 30 finalists for outstanding books of 2017, in the categories of autobiography, biography, criticism, fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.

The awards will be presented on March 15, 2018 at the New School in New York City in a ceremony that is free to the public. There will be readings by the authors at the New School the night before, and a fundraising reception after the event.

Here are the 2017 nominees for the National Book Critics Circle Awards:


A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived cover

Gulf: The Making of An American Sea by Jack Davis

The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America by Frances FitzGerald

The Future is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia by Masha Gessen

Border: A Journey to the Edge of Europe by Kapka Kassabova

A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived: The Human Story Retold Through Our Genes by Adam Rutherford


The Invention of Angela Carter book cover

Prairie Fires: The american dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Caroline Fraser

The Invention of Angela Carter: A Biography by Edmund Gordon

The Kelloggs: The Battling Brothers of Battle Creek by Howard Markel

Gorbachev: His Life and Times by William Taubman

Hoover: An Extraordinary Life in Extraordinary Times by Kenneth Whyte


hunger roxane gay

The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir by Thi Bui

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay

Admissions: A Life in Brain Surgery by Henry Marsh

The Girl From the Metropol Hotel: Growing Up in Communist Russia by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya

Nine Continents: A Memoir In and Out of China by Xiaolu Guo


Directions for Use book cover

Fourth Person Singular by Nuar Alsadir

Earthling by James Longenbach

Whereas by Layli Long Soldier

The Darkness of Snow by Frank Ormsby

Directions for Use by Ana Ristović


The Art of Death book cover

You Play the Girl: On Playboy Bunnies, Stepford Wives, Train Wrecks, & Other Mixed Messages by Carina Chocano

The Art of Death: Writing the Final Story by Edwidge Danticat

Guidebook to Relative Strangers: Journeys into Race, Motherhood and History by Camille Dungy

Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions by Valeria Luiselli

Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts and Fake News by Kevin Young

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward


Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy

Improvement by Joan Silber

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

There were also some winners announced for special prizes from the NBCC. John McPhee, a journalist, essayist, author, and journalism professor at Princeton, won the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award. McPhee is considered a pioneer of creative nonfiction, and won the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction for Annals of the Former World.

Carmen Maria Machado won the fourth annual John Leonard Prize for her debut story collection, Her Body and Other Parties. The prize recognizes outstanding first books in any genre. Machado’s fabulist collection was also a finalist for the 2017 National Book Award for Fiction.

Charles Finch, an American author and literary critic who writes essays and reviews for the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and more, received the 2017 Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing. Finch is the author of the Charles Lenox mysteries, Victorian-era sleuth novels that include The Inheritance and A Beautiful Blue Death. He is also the author of contemporary novel The Last Enchantments.