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National Book Critics Circle Awards

NBCC logoThe National Book Critics Circle awards are given each March and honor literature published in the United States in six categories—fiction, nonfiction, autobiography, biography, criticism, and poetry. These are the only national literary awards chosen by critics themselves. Below are the six category winners for this past year--click on the covers to add to cart.



Milkman book jacketMilkman by Anna Burns (Graywolf $16).

In an unnamed city, middle sister stands out for the wrong reasons. She reads while walking, for one. And she has been taking French night classes downtown. So when a local paramilitary known as the milkman begins pursuing her, she suddenly becomes “interesting,” the last thing she ever wanted to be. Milkman is a story of the way inaction can have enormous repercussions, in a time when the wrong flag, wrong religion, or even a sunset can be subversive. Told with ferocious energy and sly, wicked humor.

Milkman vibrates with the anxieties of our own era, from terrorism to sexual harassment to the blinding divisions that make reconciliation feel impossible. . . . It’s as though the intense pressure of this place has compressed the elements of comedy and horror to produce some new alloy.”The Washington Post


General Nonfiction:

Directorate S book jacketDirectorate S: The C.I.A. and America's Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan by Steve Coll (Penguin $18).

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Ghost Wars, the epic and enthralling story of America's intelligence, military, and diplomatic efforts to defeat Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan since 9/11. Resuming the narrative of Ghost Wars, Coll excavates this grand battle, which took place away from the gaze of the American public, and brings to life a tale at once vast and intricate, propulsive and painstaking.




Belonging book jacketBelonging: A German Reckons with History and Home by Nora Krug (Scribner $30).

This "ingenious reckoning with the past" (New York Times), by award-winning artist Krug investigates the hidden truths of her family’s wartime history in Nazi Germany. Named a Best Book of the Year by The New York Times, The Boston Globe, San Francisco Chronicle, NPR, Kirkus Reviews, and Library Journal.




Flash book jacketFlash: The Making of Weegee the Famous by Christopher Bonanos (Henry Holt $32).

Arthur Fellig’s ability to arrive at a crime scene just as the cops did was so uncanny that he renamed himself “Weegee,” claiming that he functioned as a human Ouija board. Weegee documented better than any other photographer the crime, grit, and complex humanity of midcentury New York City. In Flash, we get a portrait not only of the man (both flawed and deeply talented, with generous appetites for publicity, women, and hot pastrami) but also of the fascinating time and place that he occupied.




Feel Free book jacketFeel Free: Essays by Zadie Smith (Penguin $18).

Gathering in one place for the first time previously unpublished work, as well as already classic essays, Feel Free offers a survey of important recent events in culture and politics, as well as Smith’s own life. Equally at home in the world of good books and bad politics, Brooklyn-born rappers and the work of Swiss novelists, she is by turns wry, heartfelt, indignant, and incisive—and never any less than perfect company. This is literary journalism at its zenith.



The Carrying book jacketThe Carrying by Ada Limón (Milkweed $22).

Vulnerable, tender, acute, these are serious poems, brave poems, exploring with honesty the ambiguous moment between the rapture of youth and the grace of acceptance. A daughter tends to aging parents. A woman struggles with infertility--"What if, instead of carrying / a child, I am supposed to carry grief?"--and a body seized by pain and vertigo as well as ecstasy. A nation convulses: "Every song of this country / has an unsung third stanza, something brutal." And still Lim n shows us, as ever, the persistence of hunger, love, and joy, the dizzying fullness of our too-short lives. "Fine then, / I'll take it," she writes. "I'll take it all."