The National Book Critics Circle and The New School Present the 2020 NBCC Awards Ceremony


New York, March 16, 2021 -- The New School has partnered with the National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) to celebrate some of the finest literature published in the United States in 2020 at the National Book Critics Circle Awards. The only national literary awards chosen by critics themselves, the ceremony honors work in the categories of fiction, nonfiction, biography, autobiography, poetry, criticism, and the John Leonard Prize for the best first book in any genre. The NBCC will also honor one of its member critics with the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing and confer the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award on a distinguished author, editor, publisher, or literary institution. Welcome remarks will be given by Luis Jaramillo, director of the Creative Writing program at The New School’s Schools of Public Engagement.

The National Book Critics Circle was founded in April 1974 at the Algonquin Hotel in New York City, by John Leonard, Nona Balakian, and Ivan Sandrof, among others, to honor outstanding writing and foster a national conversation about reading, criticism, and literature. Today the NBCC serves nearly 800 member critics, authors, student members, and friends, and its Emerging Critics fellowship offers mentorship and education to a class of about a dozen aspiring critics each year.

The ceremony will be held online on Thursday, March 25, 2021 at 7:00PM (EDT). To attend please register here.


Memorial by Bryan Washington
How to Pronounce Knife by Souvankham Thammovongsa
Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell
If I Had Two Wings by Randall Kenan
Inside Story by Martin Amis

Island on Fire by Tom Zoellner
Caste by Isabel Wilkerson
She Comes by It Natural: Dolly Parton by Sarah Smarsh
Shakespeare in a Divided America by James Shapiro
Broken Heart of America by Walter Johnson

Stranger in the Shogun's City by Amy Stanley
The Dead Are Arising: Life of Malcolm X by Les & Tamara Payne
The Equivalents: Female Friendship & Liberation in the 1960s by Maggie Doherty
Red Comet: Short Life & Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath by Heather Clark
Price of Peace by Zachary Carter

Home Baked by Alia Volz
The Dragons, The Giant, The Women by Wayétu Moore
This Is Major by Shayla Lawson
Golem Girl by Riva Lehrer
Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong

Homie by Danez Smith
The Shore by Chris Nealon
Imperial Liquor by Amaud Jamaul Johnson
Here is the Sweet Hand by Francine J. Harris
Obit by Victoria Chang

Crap: History of Cheap Stuff in America by Wendy Woloson
Stranger Faces by Namwali Serpell
Grieving by Cristina Rivera Garza
Unfinished Business: Notes of a Chronic Re-Reader by Vivian Gornick
Marking Time: Are in the Age of Mass Incarceration by Nicole Fleetwood

John Leonard Prize
Mill Town: Reckoning with What Remains by Kerri Arsenault, MFA Creative Writing '15
How Much of These Hill is Gold by C Pam Zhang
Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart
Real Life by Brandon Taylor
A Burning by Megha Majumdar
Luster by Raven Leilani
Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo-Villavicencio


Founded in 1919, The New School was established to advance academic freedom, tolerance, and experimentation. A century later, The New School remains at the forefront of innovation in higher education, inspiring more than 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students to challenge the status quo in design and the social sciences, liberal arts, management, the arts, and media. The university welcomes thousands of adult learners annually for continuing education courses and public programs that encourage open discourse and social engagement. Through our online learning portals, research institutes, and international partnerships, The New School maintains a global presence.



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Media Contacts:

The New School
Merrie Snead


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