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Here are the finalists for the 2020 National Book Critics Circle Award.

Rasheeda Saka

January 25, 2021, 11:52am

Yesterday, writer and book critic Michael Schaub announced all the finalists for the 2020 National Book Critics Circle Award, which honors the “finest books” published in English during the last year. The thirty finalists were selected across six categories—Autobiography, Biography, Criticism, Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry—by a distinguished panel of literary experts.

Seven finalists were also selected for the John Leonard Prize, which awards for the best debut in any genre. Previous winners include Sarah M. Broom, Tommy Orange, and Carmen Maria Machado.

The winner of each category will be announced live at the virtual National Book Critics Circle Award on Thursday March 25 at 7pm at wildboundlive.com. The free public event will also grant the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award to the NYC nonprofit Feminist Press, and the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing to the New Republic critic Jo Livingstone.

A hearty congrats to all!


Finalists for the 2020 National Book Critics Circle Award


Cathy Park Hong, Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning

Shayla Lawson, This Is Major: Notes on Diana Ross, Dark Girls, and Being Dope

Riva Lehrer, Golem Girl 

Wayétu Moore, The Dragons, The Giant, The Women

Alia Volz, Home Baked: My Mom, Marijuana, and the Stoning of San Francisco 


Amy Stanley, Stranger in the Shogun’s City: A Japanese Woman and Her World 

Zachary D. Carter, The Price of Peace: Money, Democracy, and the Life of John Maynard Keynes

Heather Clark, Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath

Les Payne, Tamara Payne, The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X 

Maggie Doherty, The Equivalents: A Story of Art, Female Friendship, and Liberation in the 1960s


Nicole Fleetwood, Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration

Namwali Serpell, Stranger Faces

Cristina Rivera Garza, Grieving: Dispatches from a Wounded Country

Vivian Gornick, Unfinished Business: Notes of a Chronic Re-Reader

Wendy A. Woloson, Crap: A History of Cheap Stuff in America


Martin Amis, Inside Story

Randall Kenan, If I Had Two Wings

Maggie O’Farrell, Hamnet

Souvankham Thammavongsa, How to Pronounce Knife

Bryan Washington, Memorial


Walter Johnson, The Broken Heart of America: St, Louis and the Violent History of the United States

James Shapiro, Shakespeare in a Divided America: What His Plays Tell Us About Our Past and Future

Sarah Smarsh, She Come By It Natural: Dolly Parton and the Women Who Lived Her Songs

Isabel Wilkerson, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent

Tom Zoellner, Island on Fire: The Revolt That Ended Slavery in the British Empire


Victoria Chang, Obit

Francine J. Harris, Here Is The Sweet Hand

Amaud Jamaul Johnson, Imperial Liquor

Chris Nealon, The Shore

Danez Smith, Homie


Kerri Arsenault, Mill Town: Reckoning with What Remains

Karla Cornejo Villavicencio, The Undocumented Americans

Raven Leilani, Luster

Megha Majumdar, A Burning

Douglas Stuart, Shuggie Bain

Brandon Taylor, Real Life

C Pam Zhang, How Much of These Hills Is Gold

[h/t NBCC]

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