Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing

The NBCC awards the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing each year to recognize outstanding work by a member of the NBCC. The citation is awarded in honor of Nona Balakian, a founding member of the National Book Critics Circle, where she served as the board’s first secretary. The eminent critic and longtime editor at the New York Times Book Review also served on the Pulitzer Prize committee, the Board of Directors of PEN, and the Authors Guild board, was the author of Critical Encounters: Essays (1978), and co-author (with Charles Simmons) of The Creative Present (1969). Since 2012, the Balakian Citation carries with it a $1,000 cash prize, thanks to a generous donation by NBCC board member Gregg Barrios.

2017 Submission Guidelines

You must be a member of the NBCC to be considered. If you are not a member, you can join online before December 17, 2017 in order to be eligible for the award. All submitted reviews must have been published in 2017.

2017 Submission Procedures

Submissions must be made by email. Emails must be time stamped no later than midnight (PST) Sunday, December 17, 2017. All submissions must be transmitted electronically by email.

What to submit via email: Send up to five book reviews (all published in 2017) of no more than 5,000 words collectively. The total word count for the submissions must not exceed 5,000, or the entire submission is disqualified from consideration for the award. In your email, include a note listing the venue; title and word count of each piece submitted.

Please attach PDFs or screenshots of your book reviews as they appeared online or in print. Also, provide a link if available online. A link alone is not sufficient as some venues have paywalls. Please make a print backup of your submission. In other words, make sure you have one print copy of each book review, preferably the published version. If there is a problem with your electronic online submission, you may be asked to submit a print version.

For questions about the award and submission process, e-mail the Balakian Committee chair, Katherine A. Powers. Email:

Please put 2017 Balakian Award in the subject line of your email.

Please submit all materials for the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing to each individual member of the 2017 Balakian committee. Failure to send your materials to all committee members will disqualify your submission from consideration.

Balakian Committee:

Katherine A. Powers

Anjali Enjeti

Michele Filgate

Carlin Romano

Michael Schaub

Elizabeth Taylor


Past Recipients of the Citation for Excellence in Reviewing


Michelle Dean


Carlos Lozada


Alexandra Schwartz (Acceptance speech)


Katherine A. Powers (Acceptance speech)


William Deresiewicz (William Deresiewicz Interview)


Kathryn Schulz (Critical Mass interview)


Parul Sehgal (Critical Mass interview | acceptance speech)


Joan Acocella


Ron Charles


Sam Anderson


Steven G. Kellman


Wyatt Mason


David Orr


Scott McLemee


Maureen N. McLane


Michael Gorra


Daniel Mendelsohn


Benjamin Schwarz


Albert Mobilio


Thomas Mallon


Dennis Drabelle


Laurie Stone


JoAnn Gutin


Brigitte Frase


Elizabeth Ward


George Scialabba


William Logan


Josh Rubins

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Awards Information

Videos and Podcasts

NBCC 2016 Awards Ceremony

NBCC 2015 Finalists Reading

NBCC 2014 Awards Ceremony

NBCC 2013 Awards Ceremony

All videos and podcasts.


From the Critical Mass blog

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