All 7 of This Year’s National Book Critics Circle Awards Went to Women

Don’t feel too bad, though — two men accepted honorary awards

national book critics circle Xiaolu Guo carina chocano joan silber
Getty Images; Carina Chocano; Joan Silber

In a first, all seven of this year’s prestigious National Book Critics Circle Awards were awarded to female authors.

The prizes, which are determined by top critics from news and literary outlets nationwide, were announced Thursday night at a ceremony in New York City.

Men were not completely shut out of the festivities, though, as John McPhee and veteran book critic Charles Finch accepted honorary awards for lifetime achievement.

The winners included Joan Silber for her novel “Improvement,” Layli Long Soldier for her poetry collection “Whereas” and Caroline Fraser for her biography “Prairie Fires: The American Dream of Laura Ingalls Wilder.”

Chinese-British author and filmmaker Xiaolu Guo’s “Nine Continents: A Memoir In and Out of China” won for autobiography, Frances FitzGerald’s “The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America” won in nonfiction, Carina Chocano’s “You Play The Girl: On Playboy Bunnies, Stepford Wives, Trainwrecks, & Other Mixed Messages” picked up the prize for criticism.

In addition, Carmen Maria Machado’s fiction collection “Her Body and Other Parties” earned the John Leonard Prize for best first book in any genre.

Founded in 1974, the National Book Critics Circle Awards are given annually to honor outstanding books published in the U.S. in English (including translations). The organization includes more than 700 critics and editors from leading newspapers, magazines and online publications.

Separate committees select finalists in each of the award categories, with the winners chosen by the circle’s 24-member board.