Here Are the Finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Award

Margaret Atwood wins a lifetime achievement award while Zadie Smith and Michael Chabon are among the fiction finalists

Margaret Atwood image from the Nexus Institute

Who knows more about good books than professional book critics? For many readers, the National Book Critics Circle Award is one of the most prestigious literary awards. Today, they announced their finalists in six categories. They also announced three other award winners: Margaret Atwood, a titan of literary and science fiction literature, was awarded the National Book Critics Circle Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award today; Yaa Gyasi won the John Leonard Prize for a debut book for her highly acclaimed “Homegoing” (Knopf); and critic Michelle Dean won for Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing for her reviews in outlets like The Guardian and The New Republic.

Here are the finalists in each category:


“Moonglow,” by Michael Chabon (Harper)

“LaRose,” by Louise Erdrich (Harper)

“Imagine Me Gone,” by Adam Haslett (Little, Brown)

“Commonwealth,” by Ann Patchett (Harper)

“Swing Time,” by Zadie Smith (Penguin Press)


“Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City,” by Matthew Desmond (Crown)

“Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America,” by Ibram X. Kendi (Nation)

“Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right,” by Jane Mayer (Doubleday)

“Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War,” by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Harvard University Press)

“Writing to Save a Life: The Louis Till File,” by John Edgar Wideman (Scribner)


“The Iceberg,” Marion Coutts (Black Cat)

“In Gratitude,” by Jenny Diski (Bloomsbury)

“Lab Girl,” by Hope Jahren (Knopf)

“The Return: Fathers, Sons, and the Land in Between,” by Hisham Matar (Random House)

“The Song Poet: A Memoir of My Father,” by Kao Kalia Yang (Metropolitan)


“Moscow Nights: The Van Cliburn Story,” by Nigel Cliff (Harper)

“Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life,” by Ruth Franklin (Liveright)

“Black Elk: The Life of an American Visionary,” by Joe Jackson (FSG)

“Krazy: George Herriman, a Life in Black and White,” by Michael Tisserand (Harper)

“Guilty Thing: A Life of Thomas De Quincey,” by Frances Wilson (FSG)


“White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide,” by Carol Anderson (Bloomsbury)

“Against Everything: Essays,” by Mark Greif (Pantheon)

“Looking for The Stranger: Albert Camus and the Life of a Literary Classic,” by Alice Kaplan (Univ. of Chicago Press)

“The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone,” by Olivia Laing (Picador)

“Am I Alone Here?: Notes on Living to Read and Reading to Live,” by Peter Orner (Catapult)


“House of Lords and Commons,” by Ishion Hutchinson (FSG)

“Olio,” by Tyehimba Jess (Wave)

“Works and Days,” by Bernadette Mayer (New Directions)

“At the Foundling Hospital,” by Robert Pinsky (FSG)

“Blackacre,” by Monica Youn (Graywolf)

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