Teju Cole and Romeo Oriogun make the NBCC finals

Teju Cole and Romeo Oriogun have captivated literary enthusiasts as their works secure spots among the finalists for the prestigious National Book Critics Circle Awards. 

Cole’s compelling novel Tremor and Oriogun’s poetry collection The Gathering of Bastards have earned nods in the fiction and poetry categories, respectively.

The National Book Critics Circle announced a diverse array of 30 finalists across six categories, including autobiography, biography, criticism, fiction, general nonfiction, and poetry. The highly anticipated awards ceremony is set to take place at the New School in Manhattan on March 21.

In the autobiography category, Susan Kiyo Ito’s I Would Meet You Anywhere and Safiya Sinclair’s How to Say Babylon stand out among the contenders, providing readers with unique memoir experiences.

Jonathan Eig’s King: A Life and Yunte Huang’s Daughter of the Dragon: Anna May Wong’s Rendezvous with American History lead the way in the biography section, offering deep insights into the lives of influential figures.


Criticism enthusiasts can anticipate a spirited competition with titles like Nicholas Dames’ The Chapter and Naomi Klein’s “Doppelganger” vying for recognition in this thought-provoking category.

Cole’s Tremor faces stiff competition from fellow fiction finalists like Lorrie Moore’s I Am Homeless if This Is Not My Home and Justin Torres’ Blackouts, promising an intense showdown for the coveted fiction award.


In the nonfiction realm, Roxanna Asgarian’s We Were Once a Family and Kerry Howley’s Bottoms Up and the Devil Laughs explore profound themes, contributing to the rich tapestry of contemporary nonfiction literature.

Poetry aficionados can celebrate the inclusion of works like Saskia Hamilton’s All Souls and Charif Shanahan’s Trace Evidence in the finals, showcasing the breadth of poetic talent.

Additionally, the John Leonard Prize, Greg Barrios Book in Translation Prize, and other special awards add further excitement to the literary landscape.

As the literary world eagerly awaits the awards ceremony on March 21, the spotlight remains firmly on Teju Cole, Romeo Oriogun, and their fellow finalists, illustrating the remarkable depth and diversity present in contemporary literature.

See list of finalists and winners below:


I Would Meet You Anywhere: A Memoir by Susan Kiyo Ito (Ohio State University Press)

Secret Harvests: A Hidden Story of Separation and the Resilience of a Family Farm by David Mas Masumoto, with artwork by Patricia Wakida (Red Hen Press)

Rotten Evidence: Reading and Writing in an Egyptian Prison by Ahmed Naji, translated by Katharine Halls (McSweeney’s)

How to Say Babylon: A Memoir by Safiya Sinclair (Simon & Schuster)

Story of a Poem: A Memoir by Matthew Zapruder (Unnamed Press)


King: A Life by Jonathan Eig (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

The Life and Times of Hannah Crafts: The True Story of the Bondwoman’s Narrative by Gregg Hecimovich (Ecco)

Daughter of the Dragon: Anna May Wong’s Rendezvous with American History by Yunte Huang (Liveright)

Betty Friedan: Magnificent Disruptor by Rachel Shteir (Yale University Press)

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


The Chapter: A Segmented History from Antiquity to the Twenty-First Century by Nicholas Dames (Princeton University Press)

Creep: Accusations and Confessions by Myriam Gurba (Avid Reader Press)

Doppelganger: A Trip into the Mirror World by Naomi Klein (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Pleasure and Efficacy: Of Pen Names, Cover Versions, and Other Trans Techniques by Grace E. Lavery (Princeton University Press)

Deadpan: The Aesthetics of Black Inexpression by Tina Post (NYU Press)


Tremor by Teju Cole (Random House)

North Woods by Daniel Mason (Random House)

I Am Homeless if This Is Not My Home by Lorrie Moore (Knopf)

Vengeance Is Mine by Marie NDiaye, translated by Jordan Stump (Knopf)

Blackouts by Justin Torres (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)


We Were Once a Family: A Story of Love, Death, and Child Removal in America by Roxanna Asgarian (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Bottoms Up and the Devil Laughs by Kerry Howley (Knopf)

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

The Undertow: Scenes from a Slow Civil War by Jeff Sharlet (W. W. Norton)

Who Gets Believed? When the Truth Isn’t Enough by Dina Nayeri (Catapult Books)


All Souls by Saskia Hamilton (Graywolf Press)

Phantom Pain Wings by Kim Hyesoon, translated by Don Mee Choi (New Directions)

The Gathering of Bastards by Romeo Oriogun (University of Nebraska Press)

Information Desk by Robyn Schiff (Penguin Books)

Trace Evidence by Charif Shanahan (Tin House)

Greg Barrios Book in Translation Prize

The Last Pomegranate Tree by Bachtyar Ali and translated by Kareem Abdulrahman (Archipelago Books)

Owlish by Dorothy Tse and translated by Natascha Bruce (Graywolf Press)

Phantom Pain Wings by Kim Hyesoon and translated by Don Mee Choi (New Directions)

Zakwato & Loglêdou’s Peril by Azo Vauguy and translated by Todd Fredson (Action Books)

Cold Nights of Childhood by Tezer Özlü and translated by Maureen Freely (Transit Books)

Happy Stories, Mostly by Norman Erikson Pasaribu and Translated by Tiffany Tsao (Feminist Press)

John Leonard Prize

Black Pastoral by Ariana Benson (University of Georgia Press)

A Nimble Arc: James Van Der Zee and Photography by Emilie Boone (Duke University Press)

The Love of Singular Men by Victor Heringer, translated by James Young (New Directions)

Waiting to Be Arrested at Night: a Uyghur Poet’s Memoir of China’s Genocide by Tahir Hamut Izgil, translated by Joshua L. Freeman (Penguin Press)

When Crack Was King by Donovan X. Ramsey (One World)

Judgment and Mercy: The Turbulent Life and Times of the Judge Who Condemned the Rosenbergs by Martin J. Siegel (Cornell University Press)

Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing

Becca Rothfeld

Toni Morrison Achievement Award

American Library Association

NBCC Service Award

Marion Winik

Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award

Judy Blume

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