By Stephan Lee
Updated January 14, 2013 at 04:34 PM EST

It may not be as famous as the Pulitzer or as remunerative as the Booker, but the National Book Critics Circle Award is high in prestige among writers and publishers. Among the 30 nominees in six categories are National Book Award winners Katherine Boo for her nonfiction work Behind the Beautiful Forevers and David Ferry for Belwilderment in poetry. Two of EW’s picks for best novels of 2012, The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson and Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain, are in the running in the fiction category. See the full list of finalists below:


Reyna Grande. The Distance Between Us. Atria Books

Maureen N. McLane. My Poets. Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Anthony Shadid. House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Leanne Shapton. Swimming Studies. Blue Rider Press

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o. In the House of the Interpreter. Pantheon


Robert A. Caro. The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson. Alfred A. Knopf

Lisa Cohen. All We Know: Three Lives. Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Michael Gorra. Portrait of a Novel: Henry James and the Making of an American Masterpiece. A Liveright Book: W. W. Norton

Lisa Jarnot. Robert Duncan, The Ambassador from Venus: A Biography. University of California Press

Tom Reiss. The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo. Crown Publishers


Paul Elie. Reinventing Bach. Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Daniel Mendelsohn. Waiting for the Barbarians: Essays from the Classics to Pop Culture. New York Review Books

Mary Ruefle. Madness, Rack, and Honey. Wave Books

Marina Warner. Stranger Magic: Charmed States and the Arabian Nights. Belknap Press: Harvard University Press

Kevin Young. The Grey Album: On the Blackness of Blackness. Graywolf Press


Laurent Binet. HHhH. tr. by Sam Taylor. Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Ben Fountain. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. Ecco

Adam Johnson. The Orphan Master’s Son. Random House

Lydia Millet, Magnificence. W. W. Norton

Zadie Smith. NW. The Penguin Press


Katherine Boo. Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity. Random House

Steve Coll. Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power. The Penguin Press

Jim Holt. Why Does the World Exist? An Existential Detective Story. A Liveright Book: W. W. Norton

David Quammen. Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic. W.W. Norton

Andrew Solomon. Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity. Scribner


David Ferry. Bewilderment: New Poems and Translations. University of Chicago Press

Lucia Perillo. On the Spectrum of Possible Deaths. Copper Canyon Press

Allan Peterson. Fragile Acts. McSweeney’s Books

D. A. Powell. Useless Landscape, or A Guide for Boys. Graywolf Press

A. E. Stallings. Olives. Triquarterly: Northwestern University Press

Nona A. Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing: William Deresiewicz

Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award: Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar

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