Supporting Book Criticism and Literary Culture Since 1974
Mission Statement: The National Book Critics Circle honors outstanding writing and fosters a national conversation about reading, criticism and literature.
History. The National Book Critics Circle was founded in April 1974 at the Algonquin Hotel in New York City, with founding members John Leonard, Nona Balakian, and Ivan Sandrof intending to extend the Algonquin round table to a national conversation. The NBCC gained 501(c)(3) status in October 2006, and in 2010 received an NEA grant to support the website and its literary blog, Critical Mass. The NBCC’s tax-exempt status means anything you care to give us as a gift is now a tax deduction. Please visit our Donate page to learn more.
Membership. The NBCC serves nearly 600 member critics, authors, literary bloggers, book publishing personnel, and student members. Membership in the NBCC is open to freelance and staff book reviewers at various stages in their careers, associate nonvoting members, and student members. Full members receive access to tips on book reviewing, an annually updated guide to publications that accept freelance pitches for reviews, the ability to nominate titles for our annual awards and elect board members, access to members-only discussion groups, plus a variety of discounts on literary magazines. Please visit our Membership page for details and to become a member.
NBCC Awards: The National Book Critics Circle awards are given each March and honor the best literature published in the United States in six categories—autobiography, biography, criticism, fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. These are the only national literary awards chosen by critics themselves. Each year the NBCC also honors one of its member critics with the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing and confers the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award on a distinguished author, editor, publisher, or literary institution. (Recent recipients include Joyce Carol Oates, Dalkey Archive Press, Milkweed Editions, and New York Review of Books editor Robert Silvers.) The NBCC awards finalists’ reading and NBCC awards ceremony, presented annually in March, bring together authors, reviewers, publishing people, and passionate readers for a celebration of the best of each year’s literary offerings.
Connecting Online. The NBCC does more than present its awards: Throughout the year it connects with members and readers in variety of ways. Our blog, Critical Mass, includes updates on work from members, reports from literary events around the country, guest posts from members, and spotlights on small presses and literary websites. Twice a year the NBCC hosts NBCC Reads, in which members are queried on literary and critical topics. You can find us on Twitter and Facebook as well.
Serving the Literary Community. The NBCC reaches the reading public through our website and at free public events nationwide, often with partners including AWP, PEN American Center, WNYC/Greene Performance Space, the New School University, the Center for Fiction, Housing Works, Gemini Ink in San Antonio, Minneapolis Public Library, City Lights Books in San Francisco, Prairie Lights in Iowa City, and dozens of others.