The 30 finalists in six categories for the 2012 National Book Critics Circle Awards have been announced. Winners will be announced on Thursday, February 28 at the New School’s Tishman Auditorium, and a finalists’ reading will be held on February 27. See the full list of finalists below.


  • 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


  • 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
  • Ngu~gi~ 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


  • 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 Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing: William Deresiewicz

Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award: Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar

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