National Book Critics Circle Award: Fiction and Nonfiction


Fiction

Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow
 Ragtime is a 1975 novel by E. L. Doctorow. This work of historical fiction is mostly set in New York City from about 1900 until the United States entry into World War I in 1917. A unique adaptation…
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2. October Light by John Gardner
 October Light is one of John Gardner’s masterworks. The penniless widow of a once-wealthy dentist, Sally Abbot now lives in the Vermont farmhouse of her older brother, 72-year-old James Page. Polar…
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3. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
 It follows the life of Macon “Milkman” Dead III, an African-American male living in Michigan, from birth to adulthood. The main theme in the novel is Milkman’s quest for identity as a black man in …
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4. The Stories of John Cheever by John Cheever
 The Stories of John Cheever is a 1978 short story collection by American author John Cheever. It contains some of his most famous stories, including “The Enormous Radio,” “Goodbye, My Brother,” “Th…
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5. The Year of the French by Thomas Flanagan
 In 1798, Irish patriots, committed to freeing their country from England, landed with a company of French troops in County Mayo, in westernmost Ireland. They were supposed to be an advance guard, f…
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6. The Transit of Venus by Shirley Hazzard
 The Transit of Venus tells the story of two orphan sisters, Caroline and Grace Bell, as they leave Australia to start a new life in post-war England. What happens to these young women — seduction a…
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7. Rabbit Is Rich by John Updike
 Rabbit Is Rich is a 1981 novel by John Updike. It is the third novel of the four-part series which begins with Rabbit, Run and Rabbit Redux, and concludes with Rabbit At Rest. There is also a relat…
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8. George Mills by Stanley Elkin
 a 1982 novel by U.S. author Stanley Elkin
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9. Ironweed by William Kennedy
 Ironweed is set during the Great Depression and tells the story of Francis Phelan, an alcoholic vagrant originally from Albany, New York, who left his family after accidentally killing his infant s…
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10. Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich
 Love Medicine is Louise Erdrich’s first novel, published in 1984. Each chapter is narrated by a different character. These narratives are very conversational, as if the narrators were telling a st…
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11. The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler
 The Accidental Tourist is a 1985 novel by Anne Tyler that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction. Set in Baltimore, Maryland, the plot rev…
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12. The Counterlife by Philip Roth
 The Counterlife (1986) is a novel by the American author Philip Roth. It is the fourth full novel to feature the fictional novelist Nathan Zuckerman. However, when The Counterlife was published, Zu…
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13. Kate Vaiden by Reynolds Price
 Kate Vaiden (1986) is a novel by Reynolds Price about a white woman from the American South who, after a teenage pregnancy, abandons her son shortly after giving birth to him and who does not get i…
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14. The Middleman and Other Stories by Bharati Mukherjee
 The Middleman and Other Stories, (1988) is a collection of short stories by Bharati Mukherjee. Stories from this volume are frequently anthologized, particularly Orbiting, A Wife’s Story, and The M…
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15. Billy Bathgate by E. L. Doctorow
 Billy Bathgate is a 1989 novel by author E. L. Doctorow that won the 1989 National Book Critics Circle award for fiction for 1990 and the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, and was the runner up for t…
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16. Rabbit at Rest by John Updike
 In John Updike’s fourth and final novel about ex-basketball player Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom, the hero has acquired heart trouble, a Florida condo, and a second grandchild. His son, Nelson, is behavi…
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17. All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
 All the Pretty Horses is a novel by U.S. author Cormac McCarthy published in 1992. Its romanticism (in contrast to the bleakness of McCarthy’s earlier work) brought the writer much public attention…
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18. A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley
 Larry Cook is an aging farmer who decides to incorporate his farm, handing complete and joint ownership to his three daughters, Ginny, Rose, and Caroline. When the youngest daughter objects, she is…
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19. A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines
 A Lesson Before Dying is Ernest J. Gaines’ eighth novel, published in 1993. “A Lesson Before Dying” is a story of two African-American men scrabbling to attain their manhood in a deeply prejudic…
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20. The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields
 It is the fictional autobiography about the life of Daisy Goodwill Flett, a seemingly ordinary woman whose life is marked by death and loss from the beginning, when her mother dies during childbirt…
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21. Mrs. Ted Bliss by Stanley Elkin
 Published posthumously in 1995, Mrs. Ted Bliss tells the story of an eighty-two-year-old widow starting life anew after the death of her husband. As Dorothy Bliss learns to cope with the mundane ri…
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22. Women in Their Beds by Gina Berriault
 This remarkable collection received the National Book Critics Circle Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the Rea Award for the Short Story, a gold medal from the Commonwealth Club of Califor…
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23. The Blue Flower by Penelope Fitzgerald
 In eighteenth-century Germany, the impetuous student of philosophy who will later gain fame as the Romantic poet Novalis seeks his father’s permission to wed his true philosophy — a plain, simple c…
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24. The Love of a Good Woman by Alice Munro
 The Love of a Good Woman is a collection of short stories by Canadian writer Alice Munro, published by McClelland and Stewart in 1998. The eight stories of this collection (one of which was origin…
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25. Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem
 Motherless Brooklyn is a Jonathan Lethem novel published in 1999. It is a detective story set in Brooklyn. The novel won the 1999 National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction and the 2000 Gold Da…
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26. Being Dead by Jim Crace
 Being Dead is a novel by the English writer Jim Crace, published in 1999. Its principal characters are married zoologists Joseph and Celice and their daughter Syl. The story tells of how Joseph an…
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27. Austerlitz by W. G. Sebald
 Austerlitz, the internationally acclaimed masterpiece by “one of the most gripping writers imaginable” (The New York Review of Books), is the story of a man?s search for the answer to his life?s ce…
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28. Atonement by Ian McEwan
 Atonement is a 2001 novel by British author Ian McEwan. It tells the story of protagonist Briony Tallis’s crime and how it changes her life, as well as those of her sister Cecilia and her lover Rob…
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29. The Known World by Edward P. Jones
 The Known World is a 2003 historical novel by Edward P. Jones. It was his first novel and second book. Set in antebellum Virginia, it examines issues regarding the ownership of black slaves by free…
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30. 2666 by Roberto Bolano
 2666 (2004) is the last novel written by Chilean-born novelist Roberto Bolaño. Depicting the unsolved and ongoing serial murders of Ciudad Juárez (Santa Teresa in the novel), the Eastern Front in W…
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31. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
 Gilead is a novel written by Marilynne Robinson and published in 2004. It won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, as well as the National Book Critics Circle Award. The novel is the fictional auto…
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32. The March by E. L. Doctorow
 Doctorow’s new novel is set towards the end of the American Civil War and follows General Sherman’s epic march with sixty thousand Union troops through Georgia and the Carolinas, one of the major m…
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33. The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai
 Set in the 1980s, the book tells the story of Jemubhai Popatlal Patel, a judge living out a disenchanted retirement in Kalimpong, a hill station in the Himalayan foothills, and his relationship wit…
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34. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
 The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007) is a best-selling novel written by Dominican-American author Junot Díaz. Although a work of fiction, the novel is set in New Jersey where Díaz was raised…
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35. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
 Wolf Hall (2009) is a Man Booker Prize-winning novel by English author Hilary Mantel, published by Fourth Estate. Set in the 1520s, it is about Thomas Cromwell’s rise to power in the Tudor court of…
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36. A Visit From The Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
 Jennifer Egan’s spellbinding novel circles the lives of Bennie Salazar, an ageing former punk rocker and record executive, and Sasha, the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Although Benni…
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37. Binocular Vision by Edith Pearlman
 Tenderly, observantly, incisively, Edith Pearlman captures life on the page like few other writers. She is a master of the short story, and this is a spectacular collection.
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38. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk: A Novel by Ben Fountain
 A ferocious firefight with Iraqi insurgents at “the battle of Al-Ansakar Canal” — three minutes and forty-three seconds of intense warfare caught on tape by an embedded Fox News crew — has transformed …
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Nonfiction

1. The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts by Maxine Hong Kingston
 A Chinese American woman tells of the Chinese myths, family stories and events of her California childhood that have shaped her identity.
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2. Edith Wharton: A Biography by R. W. B. Lewis
 Edith Wharton: A Biography
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3. Samuel Johnson by Walter Jackson Bate
 This 1979 chronicle is seen by critics not only as the definitive life of Dr. Johnson, but as a model of well-researched, lucid, fair — but always affectionate — biography.
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4. Facts of Life by Maureen Howard
 Maureen Keans-Howard (born 1930 in Bridgeport, Connecticut) is an American writer, editor, and lecturer known for her award winning autobiography Facts of Life.
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5. Munich: The Price of Peace by Telford Taylor
 Munich: The Price of Peace
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6. Walter Lippmann and the American Century by Ronald Steel
 The biography of Walter Lippman
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7. The Mismeasure of Man by Stephen Jay Gould
 The Mismeasure of Man is a 1981 book written by the Harvard paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould (1941–2002). The book is a history and critique of the methods and motivations underlying biological det…
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8. The Path to Power by Robert Caro
 The Path to Power, Caro retraced Lyndon Johnson’s life by temporarily moving to rural Texas and Washington, D.C., to better understand Johnson’s upbringing and to interview anyone who had known Joh…
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9. The Price of Power by Seymour M. Hersh
 The Price of Power: Kissinger in the Nixon White House
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10. Weapons and Hope by Freeman Dyson
 Weapons and Hope by Freeman Dyson
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11. Common Ground by J. Anthony Lukas
 The book traces the history of three families: the African-American Twymons, the Irish McGoffs and the Yankee Divers. It gives brief genealogical histories of each families, focusing on how the eve…
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12. War Without Mercy by John W. Dower
 War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War
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13. The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes
 The Making of the Atomic Bomb, a book written by Richard Rhodes, won the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction, a National Book Award and a National Book Critics Circle Award. The 900-page bo…
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14. Parting the Waters by Taylor Branch
 Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954–63
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15. The Broken Cord by Michael Dorris
 Dorris, author of A Yellow raft in blue water, professor at Dartmouth College, and member of the Modoc Indian tribe, tells the moving story of his adopted Sioux son Adam, who suffers from Fetal Alc…
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16. The Content of Our Character by Shelby Stelle
 In this controversial essay collection, award-winning writer Shelby Stelle illuminates the origins of the current conflict in race relations — the increase in anger, mistrust, and even violence betw…
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17. Backlash by Susan Faludi
 Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women is the title of a 1991 nonfiction book by Pulitzer Prize winner Susan Faludi, which argues for the existence of a media driven “backlash” against…
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18. The Land Where the Blues Began by Alan Lomax
 Working for the Library of Congress and other cultural institutions, legendary roots-music connoisseur Lomax ( Mister Jelly Roll ) visited the Mississippi Delta with his father, folklorist John Lom…
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19. Young Men and Fire by Norman Maclean
 Young Men and Fire is a non-fiction book written by Norman Maclean and edited by his son, John Norman Maclean. It is an account of Norman Maclean’s research of the Mann Gulch fire of 1949 and the 1…
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20. The Rape of Europa by Lynn Nicholas
 The Rape of Europa: The Fate of Europe’s Treasures in the Third Reich and the Second World War is the title of a book and a subsequent documentary film. The book, by Lynn Nicholas, explores the Naz…
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21. Bad Land: An American Romance by Jonathan Raban
 Raban (Old Glory), an Englishman now settled in Seattle, has written a vivid and utterly idiosyncratic social history of the homesteading movement in eastern Montana that went boom and bust during …
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22. A Civil Action by Jonathan Harr
 A Civil Action is a 1996 non-fiction novel by Jonathan Harr depicting the real-life water contamination case in Woburn, Massachusetts in the 1980s. The book became a best-seller and won the Nationa…
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23. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman
 The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures is a 1997 book by Anne Fadiman that chronicles the struggles of a Hmong refugee fami…
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24. We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families by Philip Gourevitch
 The book describes Gourevitch’s travels in Rwanda after the conflict, in which he interviews survivors and gathers information. Gourevitch retells survivors’ stories, and reflects on the meaning of…
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25. Time, Love, Memory by Jonathan Weiner
 Jonathan Weiner, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for The Beak of the Finch, brings his brilliant reporting skills to the story of Seymour Benzer, the Brooklyn-born maverick scientist whose study of ge…
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26. Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper by Nicholson Baker
 Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper is a non-fiction book by Nicholson Baker that was published in April, 2001. An excerpt appeared in the July 24, 2000 issue of The New Yorker, under t…
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27. Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing by Ted Conover
 Acclaimed journalist Conover sets a new standard for reporting when he applies for a job as a prison officer. So begins his odyssey at Sing Sing, once a model prison but now the New York State’s mo…
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28. Sons of Mississippi by Paul Hendrickson
 To help us understand racism in America, former Washington Post journalist Hendrickson tells the story of the seven white Mississippi sheriffs shown admiring a billy club in a famed 1962 photograph.
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29. The Reformation by Diarmaid MacCulloch
 The Reformation: A History (2003) is a history book by English historian Diarmaid MacCulloch. It is a survey of the European Reformation between 1490 and 1700. It won the 2004 National Book Critics…
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30. Rough Crossings by Simon Schama
 Rough Crossings: Britain, the Slaves and the American Revolution is a history book and television series by Simon Schama. This gives an account of the history of thousands of enslaved African Amer…
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31. Voices from Chernobyl by Svetlana Alexievich
 Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster is a 2005 book by Svetlana Alexievich. Alexievich was a journalist living in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, at the time of the Chernoby…
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32. Medical Apartheid by Harriet A. Washington
 Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present is a 2007 book by Harriet A. Washington. It is a comprehensive history of medica…
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33. The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science by Richard Holmes
 The Age of Wonder: How the romantic generation discovered the beauty and terror of Science is a 2008 popular science book about the history of science written by Richard Holmes. In it, the author d…
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34. The Forever War by Dexter Filkins
 The Forever War is a non-fiction book by American journalist Dexter Filkins about his observations on assignment in Afghanistan and Iraq during the Iraq War. The book made the New York Times Book R…
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35. The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson
 One of The New York Times Book Review’s 10 Best Books of the Year In this epic, beautifully written masterwork, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Isabel Wilkerson chronicles one of the great untold sto…
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36. Liberty’s Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary World by Maya Jasanoff
 A global history of the post-Revolutionary War exodus of 60,000 Americans loyal to the British Empire to such regions as Canada, India and Sierra Leone traces the experiences of specific individual…
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37. Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity by Andrew Solomon
 From the National Book Award–winning author of The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression comes a monumental new work, a decade in the writing, about family. In Far from the Tree, Andrew Solomon tel…
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38. Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital by Sheri Fink
 One of the New York Times’s Best Ten Books of the Year Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction Winner of the 2014 J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize, the Los Angeles Times Book Pri…
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