National Book Critics Circle Awards

US National Book Critics Circle Awards 2023 finalists announced.

The National Book Critics Circle Awards 2023 finalists have been announced today, Thursday, January 25, 2024. Here are the writers of African descent on the lists.

The National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) bestows its awards honouring the best books published in the past year in the United States since 1974. The finalists are nominated, evaluated, and selected by the 24-member board of directors, which consists of critics and editors from some of the country’s leading print and online publications, as well as critics whose works appear in these publications.

The National Book Critics Circle announced its finalists in six categories—autobiography, biography, criticism, fiction, general nonfiction, and poetry—for the best books of 2023 today.

“It’s a thrilling privilege for the NBCC to continue the work envisioned by John Leonard, Nona Balakian, and Ivan Sandrof in 1974: to honour outstanding writing and foster a national conversation about literature,” said NBCC President Heather Scott Partington.

The Writers of African descent who made the cut are;


  • Rotten Evidence: Reading and Writing in an Egyptian Prison, Ahmed Naji, translated by Katharine Halls (McSweeney’s)
  • How to Say Babylon: A Memoir, Safiya Sinclair, (Simon & Schuster)


  • Winnie and Nelson: Portrait of a Marriage, Jonny Steinberg, (Knopf)


  • Tremor, Teju Cole, (Random House)
  • Vengeance Is Mine, Marie NDiaye, translated by Jordan Stump (Knopf)


  • Ordinary Notes, Christina Sharpe, (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)


  • The Gathering of Bastards, Romeo Oriogun, (University of Nebraska Press)
  • Trace Evidence, Charif Shanahan, (Tin House)

Gregg Barrios Book In Translation Prize

  • Todd Fredson’s translation of Zakwato & Loglêdou’s Peril by Azo Vauguy (Action Books)

Jonathan Leonard Prize

  • Black Pastoral, Ariana Benson, (University of Georgia Press)
  • A Nimble Arc: James Van Der Zee and Photography, Emilie Boone, (Duke University Press)
  • When Crack Was King, Donovan X. Ramsey, (One World)

The awards will be presented on March 21 in New York City, USA, in a ceremony that will be free and open to the public.


What wonderful news!! Thank you so much to the @bookcritics for this honour and congrats to the other finalists!☀️

Safiya Sinclair

Bloody hell!!!!!

Romeo Oriogun

I’m so moved and feel so honored I don’t even know what to say. My deepest thanks to @bookcritics for this incredible recognition and my heartiest congratulations to the other poets.  Thank you everyone who’s read the book, shared the poems, written to me, etc — thank you🧚🏽‍♂️🐞✨

Charif Shanahan

whoaaa?!?! immensely and genuinely shocked in the BEST way 🙏🏾

Ariana Benson

Thank you, @bookcritics . What an honor!

Donovan X. Ramsey


One response to “US National Book Critics Circle Awards 2023 finalists announced.”

  1. […] biography, criticism, fiction, general nonfiction, and poetry—for the best books of 2023 on Thursday, January 25. The winners were then announced on Thursday, March […]

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