national book critics circle

National Book Critics Circle Winners Include New York’s Christopher Bonanos

Photo: TOLGA AKMEN/AFP/Getty Images

The National Book Critics Circle announced its annual award winners during a ceremony tonight at the New School. The class of 2018 includes Milkman, a novel by Irish author Anna Burns that surprised most readers last year by winning the even more prestigious Man Booker Prize. Among the nonfiction winners were two works about contending with troubling historical legacies. Nora Krug’s Belonging, a graphic memoir about the “inherited sin” of the Holocaust, won in the category of autobiography, while the nonfiction prize went to Steve Coll’s Directorate S: The C.I.A. and America’s Secret Wars in Afghanistan. “Told with empathy for all sides, [Coll’s] account is sad, frightening, and moving in its depiction of the human toll of the conflict,” said Seattle Times critic and NBCC board member Mary Ann Gwinn. The biography prize went to New York magazine’s city editor, Christopher Bonanos, for his biography of the legendary New York crime photographer Weegee. “Bonanos has written a page-turner about, of all people, a grubby loner scrambling around Manhattan taking pictures of usually humble and often dirtyish goings-on,” said linguist John McWhorter, “usually after dark, and with a focus bordering on the compulsive.”

Tommy Orange’s critically acclaimed story cycle, There There, won the John Leonard Prize, which goes to an outstanding debut book of any kind. Orange has an MFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts. He is a 2014 MacDowell Fellow and a 2016 Writing by Writers Fellow. Novelist Zadie Smith took the criticism prize for her book of essays, Feel Free, while longtime NPR critic Maureen Corrigan earned the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing. The complete list of winners is below.

Autobiography
Nora Krug, Belonging: A German Reckons With History and Home (Scribner)

Biography
Christopher Bonanos, Flash: The Making of Weegee the Famous (Henry Holt & Company)

Criticism
Zadie Smith, Feel Free: Essays (Penguin Press)

Fiction
Anna Burns, Milkman (Graywolf)

Poetry
Ada Limón, The Carrying (Milkweed)

The John Leonard Prize
Tommy Orange, There There (Knopf)

The Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing
Maureen Corrigan

Nonfiction
Steve Coll, Directorate S: The C.I.A. and America’s Secret Wars in Afghanistan (Penguin Press)

The Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award
Arte Público

Here Are the 2018 National Book Critic Circle Winners