List of winners of the National Book Award

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These authors and books have won the annual National Book Awards, awarded to American authors by the National Book Foundation based in the United States.

History of categories[edit]

The National Book Awards were first awarded to four 1935 publications in May 1936. Contrary to that historical fact, the National Book Foundation currently recognizes only a history of purely literary awards that begins in 1950. The pre-war awards and the 1980 to 1983 graphics awards are covered below following the main list of current award categories.

There have been four award categories since 1996, Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry, and Young People's Literature. The main list below is organized by the current award categories and by year.

The four categories' winners are selected from hundreds of preliminary nominees. For example, in the 2010 cycle the preliminary phase nominees ranged from 148 in the Poetry category to 435 in the Nonfiction category.[1] In the 2013 cycle, the long−list phase nominees totaled 40 in September, 10 finalists for each of the four categories, with the year's 4 winners announced in November.[2] Lists of five finalists were announced October 16[3][2]

Repeat winners and split awards are covered at the bottom of the page.

Current award categories[edit]

This section covers awards starting in 1950 in the four current categories as defined by their names. Some awards in "previous categories" may have been equivalent except in name.[4]


General fiction for adult readers is a National Book Award category that has been continuous since 1950, with multiple awards for a few years beginning 1980. From 1935 to 1941, there were six annual awards for novels or general fiction and the "Bookseller Discovery", the "Most Original Book"; both awards were sometimes given to a novel.

1950  Nelson Algren The Man with the Golden Arm
1951 William Faulkner The Collected Stories of William Faulkner
1952 James Jones From Here to Eternity
1953 Ralph Ellison Invisible Man
1954 Saul Bellow The Adventures of Augie March
1955 William Faulkner A Fable
1956 John O'Hara Ten North Frederick
1957 Wright Morris The Field of Vision
1958 John Cheever The Wapshot Chronicle
1959 Bernard Malamud The Magic Barrel
1960 Philip Roth Goodbye, Columbus
1961 Conrad Richter The Waters of Kronos
1962 Walker Percy The Moviegoer
1963 J. F. Powers Morte d'Urban
1964 John Updike The Centaur
1965 Saul Bellow Herzog
1966 Katherine Anne Porter  The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter
1967 Bernard Malamud The Fixer
1968 Thornton Wilder The Eighth Day
1969 Jerzy Kosinski Steps
1970 Joyce Carol Oates them
1971 Saul Bellow Mr. Sammler's Planet
1972 Flannery O'Connor The Complete Stories
1973 John Barth Chimera
  [a] John Edward Williams Augustus
1974 Thomas Pynchon Gravity's Rainbow
  [b] Isaac Bashevis Singer A Crown of Feathers and Other Stories
1975 Robert Stone Dog Soldiers
  [c] Thomas Williams The Hair of Harold Roux
1976 William Gaddis J R
1977 Wallace Stegner The Spectator Bird
1978 Mary Lee Settle Blood Tie
1979 Tim O'Brien Going After Cacciato
Dozens of new categories were introduced in 1980, including "General fiction", hardcover and paperback, which are both listed here.[i] The comprehensive "Fiction" genre and hard-or-soft format were both restored three years later.
1980 hard William Styron Sophie's Choice
1980 pb[i] John Irving The World According to Garp
1981 hard Wright Morris Plains Song: For Female Voices
1981 pb[i] John Cheever The Stories of John Cheever
1982 hard John Updike Rabbit is Rich
1982 pb[i] William Maxwell So Long, See You Tomorrow
1983 hard Alice Walker The Color Purple
1983 pb[i] Eudora Welty The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty
1984 Ellen Gilchrist Victory Over Japan: A Book of Stories
1985 Don DeLillo White Noise
1986 E.L. Doctorow World's Fair
1987 Larry Heinemann Paco's Story
1988 Pete Dexter Paris Trout
1989 John Casey Spartina
1990 Charles Johnson Middle Passage
1991 Norman Rush Mating
1992 Cormac McCarthy All the Pretty Horses
1993 E. Annie Proulx The Shipping News
1994 William Gaddis A Frolic of His Own
1995 Philip Roth Sabbath's Theater
1996 Andrea Barrett Ship Fever and Other Stories
1997 Charles Frazier Cold Mountain
1998 Alice McDermott Charming Billy
1999 Ha Jin Waiting
2000 Susan Sontag In America
2001 Jonathan Franzen The Corrections
2002 Julia Glass Three Junes
2003 Shirley Hazzard The Great Fire
2004 Lily Tuck The News from Paraguay
2005 William T. Vollmann Europe Central
2006 Richard Powers The Echo Maker
2007 Denis Johnson Tree of Smoke
2008 Peter Matthiessen Shadow Country
2009 Colum McCann Let the Great World Spin
2010 Jaimy Gordon Lord of Misrule
2011 Jesmyn Ward Salvage the Bones
2012 Louise Erdrich The Round House[9]
2013 James McBride The Good Lord Bird[2]
2014 Phil Klay Redeployment[10]
2015 Adam Johnson Fortune Smiles[11][12]
2016 Colson Whitehead The Underground Railroad
2017 Jesmyn Ward Sing, Unburied, Sing
2018 Sigrid Nunez The Friend
2019 Susan Choi Trust Exercise
2020 Charles Yu Interior Chinatown
2021 Jason Mott Hell of a Book


General nonfiction for adult readers is a National Book Award category continuous only from 1984, when the general award was restored after two decades of awards in several nonfiction categories. From 1935 to 1941 there were six annual awards for general nonfiction, two for biography, and the Bookseller Discovery or Most Original Book was sometimes nonfiction.

1950 Ralph L. Rusk The Life of Ralph Waldo Emerson (biog. Ralph Waldo Emerson)
1951 Newton Arvin Herman Melville (biog. Herman Melville)
1952 Rachel Carson The Sea Around Us
1953 Bernard A. DeVoto The Course of Empire
1954 Bruce Catton A Stillness at Appomattox (third of 3 vols)
1955 Joseph Wood Krutch The Measure of Man
1956 Herbert Kubly An American in Italy
1957 George F. Kennan Russia Leaves the War
1958 Catherine Drinker Bowen The Lion and the Throne (see Edward Coke)
1959 J. Christopher Herold Mistress to an Age: A Life of Madame de Staël (biog. Madame de Staël)
1960 Richard Ellmann James Joyce (biog. James Joyce)
1961 William L. Shirer The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich
1962 Lewis Mumford The City in History: Its Origins, its Transformations and its Prospects
1963 Leon Edel Henry James, volumes II and III (biog. Henry James)
Multiple nonfiction categories were introduced in 1964, initially Arts and Letters; History and Biography; and Science, Philosophy and Religion. See also Contemporary and General Nonfiction. The comprehensive "Nonfiction" genre was restored twenty years later.
1984 Robert V. Remini Andrew Jackson: The Course of American Democracy, 1833-1845 (biog. Andrew Jackson)
1985 J. Anthony Lukas Common Ground: A Turbulent Decade in the Lives of Three American Families
1986 Barry Lopez Arctic Dreams: Imagination and Desire in a Northern Landscape
1987 Richard Rhodes The Making of the Atomic Bomb
1988 Neil Sheehan A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam
1989 Thomas L. Friedman From Beirut to Jerusalem
1990 Ron Chernow The House of Morgan: An American Banking Dynasty and the Rise of Modern Finance
1991 Orlando Patterson Freedom, Vol. 1: Freedom in the Making of Western Culture
1992 Paul Monette Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story
1993 Gore Vidal United States: Essays 1952-1992
1994 Sherwin B. Nuland How We Die: Reflections on Life's Final Chapter
1995 Tina Rosenberg The Haunted Land: Facing Europe's Ghosts After Communism
1996 James P. Carroll An American Requiem: God, My Father, and the War that Came Between Us
1997 Joseph J. Ellis American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson
1998 Edward Ball Slaves in the Family
1999 John W. Dower Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II
2000 Nathaniel Philbrick In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex
2001 Andrew Solomon The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression
2002 Robert A. Caro Master of the Senate: The Years of Lyndon Johnson
2003 Carlos Eire Waiting for Snow in Havana: Confessions of a Cuban Boy
2004 Kevin Boyle Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age
2005 Joan Didion The Year of Magical Thinking
2006 Timothy Egan The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl
2007 Tim Weiner Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA
2008 Annette Gordon-Reed  The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family
2009 T.J. Stiles The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt (biog. Cornelius Vanderbilt)
2010 Patti Smith Just Kids
2011 Stephen Greenblatt The Swerve: How the World Became Modern
2012 Katherine Boo Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity[9]
2013 George Packer The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America[2]
2014 Evan Osnos Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China[13]
2015 Ta-Nehisi Coates Between the World and Me[11][12]
2016 Ibram X. Kendi Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America
2017 Masha Gessen The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia
2018 Jeffrey C. Stewart The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke
2019 Sarah M. Broom The Yellow House
2020 Les Payne and Tamara Payne The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X
2021 Tiya Miles All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley's Sack, a Black Family Keepsake


1950 William Carlos Williams  Paterson: Book Three and Selected Poems
1951 Wallace Stevens The Auroras of Autumn
1952 Marianne Moore Collected Poems
1953 Archibald MacLeish Collected Poems, 1917-1952
1954 Conrad Aiken Collected Poems
1955 Wallace Stevens The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens
1956 W. H. Auden The Shield of Achilles
1957 Richard Wilbur Things of This World
1958 Robert Penn Warren Promises: Poems, 1954-1956
1959 Theodore Roethke Words for the Wind
1960 Robert Lowell Life Studies
1961 Randall Jarrell The Woman at the Washington Zoo
1962 Alan Dugan Poems
1963 William Stafford Traveling Through the Dark
1964 John Crowe Ransom Selected Poems
1965 Theodore Roethke The Far Field
1966 James Dickey Buckdancer's Choice
1967 James Merrill Nights and Days
1968 Robert Bly The Light Around the Body
1969 John Berryman His Toy, His Dream, His Rest
1970 Elizabeth Bishop The Complete Poems
1971 Mona Van Duyn To See, To Take
1972 Frank O'Hara The Collected Works of Frank O'Hara
  [d] Howard Moss Selected Poems
1973 A. R. Ammons Collected Poems, 1951-1971
1974 Allen Ginsberg The Fall of America: Poems of these States, 1965-1971
  [b] Adrienne Rich Diving into the Wreck: Poems 1971–1972
1975 Marilyn Hacker Presentation Piece
1976 John Ashbery Self-portrait in a Convex Mirror
1977 Richard Eberhart Collected Poems, 1930-1976
1978 Howard Nemerov The Collected Poems of Howard Nemerov
1979 James Merrill Mirabell: Book of Numbers
1980 Philip Levine Ashes: Poems New and Old
1981 Lisel Mueller The Need to Hold Still
1982 William Bronk Life Supports: New and Collected Poems
1983 Galway Kinnell Selected Poems
  [e] Charles Wright Country Music: Selected Early Poems
Major reorganization in 1984 eliminated the 30-year-old Poetry award along with dozens of younger ones. Poetry alone was restored seven years later.
1991 Philip Levine What Work Is
1992 Mary Oliver New and Selected Poems
1993 A. R. Ammons Garbage
1994 James Tate A Worshipful Company of Fletchers
1995 Stanley Kunitz Passing Through: The Later Poems
1996 Hayden Carruth Scrambled Eggs and Whiskey
1997 William Meredith Effort at Speech: New and Selected Poems
1998 Gerald Stern This Time: New and Selected Poems
1999 Ai Vice: New and Selected Poems
2000 Lucille Clifton Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems 1988-2000
2001 Alan Dugan Poems Seven: New and Complete Poetry
2002 Ruth Stone In the Next Galaxy
2003 C. K. Williams The Singing
2004 Jean Valentine Door in the Mountain: New and Collected Poems, 1965-2003
2005 W. S. Merwin Migration: New and Selected Poems
2006 Nathaniel Mackey Splay Anthem
2007 Robert Hass Time and Materials: Poems, 1997-2005
2008 Mark Doty Fire to Fire: New and Collected Poems
2009 Keith Waldrop Transcendental Studies: A Trilogy
2010 Terrance Hayes Lighthead
2011 Nikky Finney Head Off & Split
2012 David Ferry Bewilderment: New Poems and Translations
2013 Mary Szybist Incarnadine[2]
2014 Louise Glück Faithful and Virtuous Night[13]
2015 Robin Coste Lewis Voyage of the Sable Venus.[11][12]
2016 Daniel Borzutzky The Performance of Becoming Human
2017 Frank Bidart Half-light: Collected Poems 1965–2016
2018 Justin Phillip Reed Indecency
2019 Arthur Sze Sight Lines
2020 Don Mee Choi DMZ Colony
2021 Martín Espada Floaters

Young People's Literature[edit]

See also the "Children's" award categories, immediately below.
1996 Victor Martinez Parrott in the Oven: MiVida
1997 Han Nolan Dancing on the Edge
1998 Louis Sachar Holes
1999 Kimberly Willis Holt When Zachary Beaver Came to Town
2000 Gloria Whelan Homeless Bird
2001 Virginia Euwer Wolff True Believer
2002 Nancy Farmer The House of the Scorpion
2003 Polly Horvath The Canning Season
2004 Pete Hautman Godless
2005 Jeanne Birdsall The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy
2006 M.T. Anderson The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. I
2007 Sherman Alexie The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
2008 Judy Blundell What I Saw and How I Lied
2009 Phillip Hoose Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice
2010 Kathryn Erskine Mockingbird
2011 Thanhha Lai Inside Out and Back Again
2012 William Alexander Goblin Secrets[9]
2013 Cynthia Kadohata The Thing About Luck[2]
2014 Jacqueline Woodson Brown Girl Dreaming[13]
2015 Neal Shusterman Challenger Deep[11][12]
2016 John Lewis, Nate Powell, and Andrew Aydin March: Book Three
2017 Robin Benway Far from the Tree
2018 Elizabeth Acevedo The Poet X
2019 Martin W. Sandler 1919 The Year That Changed America
2020 Kacen Callender King and the Dragonflies
2021 Malinda Lo Last Night at the Telegraph Club

Award for Translated Literature[edit]

The first translation award ran from 1968 to 1983 and was for fiction only, the translated author could be living or dead (e.g. Virgil won in 1973). The National Book Award for Translated Literature was inaugurated in 2018 for fiction or non-fiction, where both author and translator were alive at the beginning of the awards cycle.[15]

1967 Gregory Rabassa Julio Cortázar's Hopscotch
  [f] Willard Trask Casanova's History of My Life (first of 6 vols.)
1968 Howard Hong
Edna Hong
Søren Kierkegaard's Journals and Papers (first of 7 vols.)
1969 William Weaver Italo Calvino's Cosmicomics
1970 Ralph Manheim Céline's Castle to Castle
1971 Frank Jones Bertolt Brecht's Saint Joan of the Stockyards
  [g] Edward G. Seidensticker Yasunari Kawabata's The Sound of the Mountain
1972 Austryn Wainhouse Jacques Monod's Chance and Necessity
1973 Allen Mandelbaum The Aeneid of Virgil
1974 Karen Brazell The Confessions of Lady Nijo
  [b] Helen R. Lane Octavio Paz's Alternating Current
  [b] Jackson Matthews Paul Valéry's Monsieur Teste
1975 Anthony Kerrigan Miguel de Unamuno's The Agony of Christianity and Essays on Faith
1977 Li-Li Ch'en Master Tung's Western Chamber Romance
1978 Richard and Clara Winston Uwe George's In the Deserts of This Earth
1979 Clayton Eshleman
José Rubia Barcia
César Vallejo's The Complete Posthumous Poetry
1980 William Arrowsmith Cesare Pavese's Hard Labor
  [h] Jane Gary Harris
Constance Link
Osip E. Mandelstam's Complete Critical Prose and Letters
1981 Francis Steegmuller The Letters of Gustave Flaubert
  [i] John E. Woods Arno Schmidt's Evening Edged in Gold
1982 Robert Lyons Danly Higuchi Ichiyō's In the Shade of Spring Leaves
  [j] Ian Hideo Levy The Ten Thousand Leaves: A Translation of The Man'Yoshu, Japan's Premier Anthology of Classical Poetry
1983 Richard Howard Charles Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du mal
1984-2017 (no award)
2018 Margaret Mitsutani Tawada Yoko's The Emissary
2019 Ottilie Mulzet László Krasznahorkai's Baron Wenckheim's Homecoming
2020 Morgan Giles Miri Yu's Tokyo Ueno Station
2021 Aneesa Abbass Higgins Elisa Shua Dusapin's Winter in Sokcho

Children's Books[edit]

Children's Literature
"Children's Books" from 1970 to 1975.
1969 Meindert DeJong Journey from Peppermint Street
1970 Isaac Bashevis Singer A Day of Pleasure: Stories of a Boy Growing up in Warsaw
1971 Lloyd Alexander The Marvelous Misadventures of Sebastian
1972 Donald Barthelme The Slightly Irregular Fire Engine or The Hithering Thithering Djinn
1973 Ursula K. Le Guin The Farthest Shore
1974 Eleanor Cameron The Court of the Stone Children
1975 Virginia Hamilton M. C. Higgins the Great
1976 Walter D. Edmonds Bert Breen's Barn
1977 Katherine Paterson The Master Puppeteer
1978 Judith Kohl
Herbert Kohl
The View From the Oak: The Private Worlds of Other Creatures
1979 Katherine Paterson The Great Gilly Hopkins
1980 hard Joan Blos A Gathering of Days: A New England Girl's Journal
1980 pb Madeleine L'Engle A Swiftly Tilting Planet
Children's Books, Fiction
"Children's Book, Fiction" in 1981; "Children's Fiction" in 1983.
1981 hard Betsy Byars The Night Swimmers
1981 pb Beverly Cleary Ramona and Her Mother
1982 hard Lloyd Alexander Westmark
1982 pb Ouida Sebestyen Words by Heart
1983 hard Jean Fritz Homesick: My Own Story
1983 pb Paula Fox A Place Apart
  [e] Joyce Carol Thomas   Marked by Fire
Children's Books, Non-fiction
"Children's Book, Nonfiction" in 1981.
1981 hard Alison Cragin Herzig  
Jane Lawrence Mali
Oh, Boy! Babies
1982 Susan Bonners A Penguin Year
1983 James Cross Giblin Chimney Sweeps
Children's Books, Picture Books
1982 hard Maurice Sendak Outside Over There
1982 pb Peter Spier Noah's Ark
1983 hard Barbara Cooney Miss Rumphius
  [e] William Steig Doctor De Soto
1983 pb Mary Ann Hoberman
Betty Fraser, illustrator  
A House is a House for Me

Nonfiction subcategories 1964 to 1983[edit]

This section covers awards from 1964 to 1983 in categories that differ from the "current categories" in name. Some of them were substantially equivalent to current categories.[4]

Arts and Letters[edit]

"Arts and Letters (Nonfiction)" in 1964.
1964 Aileen Ward John Keats: The Making of a Poet (biog. John Keats)
1965 Eleanor Clark The Oysters of Locmariaquer
1966 Janet Flanner Paris Journal, 1944-1965
1967 Justin Kaplan Mr. Clemens and Mark Twain: A Biography (biog. Mark Twain)
1968 William Troy Selected Essays
1969 Norman Mailer The Armies of the Night: History as a Novel, The Novel as History
1970 Lillian Hellman An Unfinished Woman: A Memoir
1971 Francis Steegmuller  Cocteau: A Biography (biog. Cocteau)
1972 Charles Rosen The Classical Style: Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven
1973 Arthur M. Wilson Diderot (biog. Denis Diderot)
1974 Pauline Kael Deeper into Movies
1975 Roger Shattuck Marcel Proust (biog. Marcel Proust)
  [c] Lewis Thomas The Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher[ii]
1976 Paul Fussell The Great War and Modern Memory

History and (Auto)biography[edit]

History and Biography[edit]

"History and Biography (Nonfiction)" in 1964.
1964 William H. McNeill The Rise of the West: A History of the Human Community
1965 Louis Fischer The Life of Lenin (biog. Lenin)
1966 Arthur Schlesinger A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House
1967 Peter Gay The Enlightenment, Vol. I: The Rise of Modern Paganism (first of 2 vols)
1968 George F. Kennan Memoirs: 1925-1950 (first of 2 vols)
1969 Winthrop D. Jordan White over Black: American Attitudes Toward the Negro, 1550-1812
1970 T. Harry Williams Huey Long (biog. Huey Long)
1971 James MacGregor Burns  Roosevelt: The Soldier of Freedom (biog. Franklin D. Roosevelt)
1976 David Brion Davis The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Revolution, 1770-1823


1972 Allan Nevins The Organized War (Ordeal of the Union, vols 7-8 of eight)
1973 Robert Manson Myers The Children of Pride: A True Story of Georgia and the Civil War
1973  [a] Isaiah Trunk Judenrat: The Jewish Councils in Eastern Europe under Nazi Occupation
1974 John Clive Thomas Babington Macaulay: The Shaping of the Historian[iii]
1975 Bernard Bailyn The Ordeal of Thomas Hutchinson (biog. Thomas Hutchinson)
1977 Irving Howe World of Our Fathers: The journey of the East European Jews to America and the life they found and made
1978 David McCullough The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal 1870-1914
1979 Richard Beale Davis Intellectual Life in the Colonial South, 1585-1763
1980 hard Henry A. Kissinger The White House Years (first of 3 vols)
1980 pb Barbara W. Tuchman A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century
1981 hard John Boswell Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality
1981 pb Leon F. Litwack Been in the Storm So Long: The Aftermath of Slavery
1982 hard Peter J. Powell People of the Sacred Mountain: A History of the Northern Cheyenne Chiefs and Warrior Societies, 1830-1879
1982 pb Robert Wohl The Generation of 1914
1983 hard Alan Brinkley Voices of Protest: Huey Long, Father Coughlin and the Great Depression
1983 pb Frank E. Manuel
Fritzie P. Manuel
Utopia in the Western World


1972 Joseph P. Lash Eleanor and Franklin: The Story of Their Relationship, Based on Eleanor Roosevelt's Private Papers (biog. Eleanor Roosevelt)
1973 James Thomas Flexner George Washington, Vol. IV: Anguish and Farewell, 1793-1799
1974 John Clive Thomas Babington Macaulay: The Shaping of the Historian (biog. Thomas Babington Macaulay)[iii]
  [b] Douglas Day Malcolm Lowry: A Biography (biog. Malcolm Lowry)
1975 Richard B. Sewall The Life of Emily Dickinson (biog. Emily Dickinson)
1980 hard Edmund Morris The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt
1980 pb A. Scott Berg Max Perkins: Editor of Genius (biog. Max Perkins)

Biography and Autobiography[edit]

1977 W.A. Swanberg Norman Thomas: The Last Idealist (biog. Norman Thomas)
1978 W. Jackson Bate Samuel Johnson (biog. Samuel Johnson)
1979 Arthur Schlesinger   Robert Kennedy and His Times (biog. Robert F. Kennedy)


1980 hard Lauren Bacall Lauren Bacall by Myself
1980 pb Malcolm Cowley  And I Worked at the Writer's Trade: Chapters of Literary History 1918-1978


1981 hard Justin Kaplan Walt Whitman: A Life (biog. Walt Whitman)
1981 pb Deirdre Bair Samuel Beckett: A Biography (biog. Samuel Beckett)
1982 hard David McCullough  Mornings on Horseback (biog. Theodore Roosevelt)
1982 pb Ronald Steel Walter Lippmann and the American Century (biog. Walter Lippmann)
1983 hard Judith Thurman Isak Dinesen: The Life of a Storyteller (biog. Isak Dinesen)
1983 pb James R. Mellow Nathaniel Hawthorne in His Times (biog. Nathaniel Hawthorne)

Science, Philosophy and Religion[edit]

Science, Philosophy and Religion[edit]

"Science, Philosophy and Religion (Nonfiction)" in 1964.
1964 Christopher Tunnard
Boris Pushkarev
Man-made America: Chaos or Control?
1965 Norbert Wiener God and Golem, Inc: A Comment on Certain Points where Cybernetics Impinges on Religion
1966 No Award (four finalists, none selected)[16]
1967 Oscar Lewis La Vida: A Puerto Rican Family in the Culture of Poverty—San Juan and New York
1968 Jonathan Kozol Death at an Early Age

The Sciences[edit]

1969  Robert Jay Lifton Death in Life: Survivors of Hiroshima
1971 Raymond Phineas Sterns Science in the British Colonies of America
1972 George L. Small The Blue Whale
1973 George B. Schaller The Serengeti Lion: A Study of Predator-Prey Relations
1974 S. E. Luria Life: The Unfinished Experiment
1975 Silvano Arieti Interpretation of Schizophrenia
  [c] Lewis Thomas The Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher[ii]


1980 hard Douglas Hofstadter Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
1980 pb Gary Zukav The Dancing Wu Li Masters: An Overview of the New Physics
1981 hard Stephen Jay Gould The Panda's Thumb: More Reflections on Natural History
1981 pb Lewis Thomas The Medusa and the Snail: More Notes of a Biology Watcher
1982 hard Donald C. Johanson
Maitland A. Edey
Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind
1982 pb Fred Alan Wolf Taking the Quantum Leap: The New Physics for Nonscientists
1983 hard Abraham Pais "Subtle is the Lord ...": The Science and Life of Albert Einstein (biog. Albert Einstein)
1983 pb Philip J. Davis
Reuben Hersh
The Mathematical Experience

Philosophy and Religion[edit]

1970 Erik H. Erikson Gandhi's Truth: On the Origins of Militant Nonviolence
1972 Martin E. Marty Righteous Empire: The Protestant Experience in America
1973 S. E. Ahlstrom A Religious History of the American People
1974 Maurice Natanson Edmund Husserl: Philosopher of Infinite Tasks
1975 Robert Nozick Anarchy, State, and Utopia


1980 hard Elaine Pagels The Gnostic Gospels (about Gnostic Gospels)
1980 pb Sheldon Vanauken  A Severe Mercy


Contemporary Affairs[edit]

1972 Stewart Brand, editor The Last Whole Earth Catalog
1973 Frances FitzGerald Fire in the Lake: The Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam
1974 Murray Kempton The Briar Patch: The People of the State of New York versus Lumumba Shakur, et al.
1975 Theodore Rosengarten   All God's Dangers: The Life of Nate Shaw (see Ned Cobb)
1976 Michael J. Arlen Passage to Ararat

Contemporary Thought[edit]

1977 Bruno Bettelheim The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales
1978 Gloria Emerson Winners and Losers
1979 Peter Matthiessen The Snow Leopard[iv]

Current Interest[edit]

1980 hard Julia Child Julia Child and More Company
1980 pb Christopher Lasch   The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations

General Nonfiction[edit]

1980 hard Tom Wolfe The Right Stuff
1980 pb Peter Matthiessen The Snow Leopard[iv]
1981 hard Maxine Hong Kingston   China Men
1981 pb Jane Kramer The Last Cowboy: Europeans and The Politics of Memory
1982 hard Tracy Kidder The Soul of a New Machine
1982 pb Victor S. Navasky Naming Names (about the Hollywood blacklist)
1983 hard Fox Butterfield China: Alive in the Bitter Sea
1983 pb James Fallows National Defense

Other Fiction 1980 to 1985[edit]

First Work of Fiction[edit]

First Novel
1980 William Wharton Birdy[v]
1981 Ann Arensberg Sister Wolf
1982 Robb Forman Dew   Dale Loves Sophie to Death
1983 Gloria Naylor The Women of Brewster Place
First Work of Fiction
1984 Harriet Doerr Stones for Ibarra
1985 Bob Shacochis  Easy in the Islands


1980 hard John D. MacDonald The Green Ripper
1980 pb William F. Buckley   Stained Glass

Science Fiction[edit]

1980 hard Frederik Pohl Jem
1980 pb Walter Wangerin   The Book of the Dun Cow


1980  Louis L'Amour   Bendigo Shafter


General Reference Books[edit]

1980 hard Elder Witt, editor   The Complete Directory
1980 pb Tim Brooks
Earle Marsh
The Complete Directory of Prime Time Network TV Shows: 1946–Present

Original Paperback[edit]

1983 Lisa Goldstein   The Red Magician

1935 to 1941[edit]

The first National Book Awards were presented in May 1936 at the annual convention of the American Booksellers Association to four 1935 books selected by its members.[17][18] Subsequently, the awards were announced mid-February to March 1[19][20][21][22][23][24] and presented at the convention. For 1937 books there were ballots from 319 stores, about three times so many as for 1935.[20] There had been 600 ABA members in 1936.[19]

The "Most Distinguished" Nonfiction, Biography, and Novel (for 1935 and 1936)[17][18][19] were reduced to two and termed "Favorite" Nonfiction and Fiction beginning 1937. Master of ceremonies Clifton Fadiman declined to consider the Pulitzer Prizes (not yet announced in February 1938) as potential ratifications. "Unlike the Pulitzer Prize committee, the booksellers merely vote for their favorite books. They do not say it is the best book or the one that will elevate the standard of manhood or womanhood. Twenty years from now we can decide which are the masterpieces. This year we can only decide which books we enjoyed reading the most."[20]

The Bookseller Discovery officially recognized "outstanding merit which failed to receive adequate sales and recognition"[21] The award stood alone for 1941 and the New York Times frankly called it "a sort of consolation prize that the booksellers hope will draw attention to his work".[24]

Authors and publishers outside the United States were eligible and there were several winners by non-U.S. authors (at least Lofts, Curie, de Saint-Exupéry, Du Maurier, and Llewellyn). The Bookseller Discovery and the general awards for fiction and non-fiction were conferred six times in seven years, the Most Original Book five times, and the biography award in the first two years only.

Dates are years of publication.

Bookseller Discovery
1935 —
1936, Norah Lofts, (short stories), I Met a Gypsy
1937, Lawrence Watkin, (novel), On Borrowed Time
1938, David Fairchild, (nonfiction), The World Was My Garden: Travels of a Plant Explorer
1939, Elgin Groseclose, (novel), Ararat
1940, Perry Burgess, Who Walk Alone[25] (1942 subtitle, Life of a Leper)[26]
1941, George Sessions Perry, (novel), Hold Autumn in Your Hand
1935, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, North to the Orient
1936, Van Wyck Brooks, The Flowering of New England: 1815-1865
1937, Ève Curie, Madame Curie (biog. Marie Curie)
1938, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Listen! The Wind
1939, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Wind, Sand and Stars
1940, Hans Zinsser, As I Remember Him: The Biography of R.S.
1941 —
Biography (both winners were autobiographies)
1935, Vincent Sheean, Personal History
1936, Victor Heiser, An American Doctor's Odyssey: Adventures in Forty-Five Countries[27][28]
1935, Rachel Field, Time Out of Mind
1936, Margaret Mitchell, Gone With the Wind
1937, A. J. Cronin, The Citadel
1938, Daphne Du Maurier, Rebecca
1939, John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
1940, Richard Llewellyn, How Green Was My Valley
1941 —
Most Original Book
1935, Charles G. Finney, (novel), The Circus of Dr. Lao
1936, Della T. Lutes, (autobiography & cookbook), The Country Kitchen[29]
1937, Carl Crow, (nonfiction), Four Hundred Million Customers: The Experiences—Some Happy, Some Sad, of an American Living in China, and What They Taught Him
1938, Margaret Halsey, (humor, satire), With Malice Toward Some[30]
1939, Dalton Trumbo, (novel), Johnny Got His Gun
1940 —
1941 —

Graphics awards[edit]

The "Academy Awards model" (Oscars) was introduced in 1980 under the name TABA, The American Book Awards. The program expanded from seven literary awards to 28 literary and 6 graphics awards. After 1983, with 19 literary and 8 graphics awards, the Awards practically went out of business, to be restored in 1984 with a program of three literary awards.

Since 1988 the Awards have been under the care of the National Book Foundation which does not recognize the graphics awards.



Art/Illustrated collection (hardcover) Drawings and Digressions by Larry Rivers with Carol Brightman; Herman Strobuck, designer (Clarkson N. Potter)
Art/Illustrated original art (hard) The Birthday of the Infanta by Oscar Wilde (1888 original), illustrated by Leonard Lubin (Viking Press)
Art/Illustrated (paperback) Anatomy Illustrated by Emily Blair Chewning; designed by Dana Levy (Fireside/ Simon & Schuster)
Book Design (hc & ppb) The Architect's Eye by Debora Nevins and Robert A. M. Stern (Pantheon Books)
Cover Design (paper) Famous Potatoes by Joe Cottonwood (orig. 1978); David Myers, designer (Delta/ Seymour Lawrence)
Jacket Design  (hard) Birdy by William Wharton; Fred Marcellino, designer (Alfred A. Knopf)[v]


Book Design, pictorial In China, photographed by Eve Arnold, designer R. D. Scudellari (The Brooklyn Museum)[1]
Book Design, typographical Saul Bellow, Drumlin Woodchuck by Mark Harris, designed by Richard Hendel (University of Georgia Press)
Book Illustration, collected or adapted The Lost Museum: glimpses of vanished originals by Robert M. Adams, designed by Michael Shroyer (Viking Press)
Cover Design, paperback Fiorucci: The Book, designed by Quist-Couratin(?) (Milan: Harlin Quist Books, distributed by Dial/ Delacorte)
Jacket Design, hardcover In China, photographed by Eve Arnold, designer R. D. Scudellari (The Brooklyn Museum)
1983 Pictorial Design Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, designer/illustrator Barry Moser, art director Steve Renick (University of California Press)
Typographical Design A Constructed Roman Alphabet, designer/illustrator David Lance Goines, art director William F. Luckey (David R. Godine)
Illustration Collected Art John Singer Sargent by Carter Ratcliff, designer Howard Morris, editor Nancy Grubb, production manager Dana Cole (Abbeville Press)
Illustration Original Art Porcupine Stew by Beverly Major, illustrator Erick Ingraham, designer/art director Cynthia Basil (William Morrow Junior Books)
Illustration Photographs Alfred Stieglitz: Photographs and Writings by Sarah Greenough and Juan Hamilton, designer Eleanor Morris Caponigro (National Gallery of Art/Callaway Editions)
Cover Design Bogmail by Patrick McGinley, illustrator Doris Ettlinger, designer/art director Neil Stuart (Penguin Books)
Jacket Design Souls on Fire by Elie Wiesel, designer Fred Marcellino, art director Frank Metz (Summit Books/ Simon & Schuster)

Herbert Mitgang's report on the inaugural TABA begins thus: "Thirty-four hardcover and paperback books, many of which nobody had heard of before, were named winners during a generally ragged presentation of the first American Book Awards in a ceremony at the Seventh Regiment Armory last night. The event was designed to resemble Hollywood's Oscars, but instead there was little glamour. All the winners were barred from accepting their awards, and most did not attend."

Repeat winners[edit]


At least three books have won two National Book Awards.
Dates are award years.

  • John Clive, Thomas Babington Macaulay: The Shaping of the Historian
1974 Biography; 1974 History
1979 Contemporary Thought; 1980 General Nonfiction, Paperback
1975 Arts and Letters; 1975 Science


At least three authors have won three awards: Saul Bellow with three Fiction awards; Peter Matthiessen with two awards for The Snow Leopard (above) and the 2008 Fiction award for Shadow Country; Lewis Thomas with two awards for The Lives of a Cell (above) and the 1981 Science paperback award for The Medusa and the Snail.

These three authors and numerous others have written two award-winning books.

Dates are award years.

"Children's" and "Young People's" categories[edit]

  • Lloyd Alexander, 1971, 1982
  • Katherine Paterson, 1977, 1979


  • Saul Bellow (3), 1954, 1965, 1971
  • John Cheever, 1958, 1981
  • William Faulkner, 1951, 1955
  • William Gaddis, 1976, 1994
  • Bernard Malamud, 1959, 1967
  • Wright Morris, 1957, 1981
  • Philip Roth, 1960, 1995
  • John Updike, 1964, 1982
  • Jesmyn Ward, 2011, 2017

"Fiction" and another category[edit]

  • Peter Mathiessen, 2008 and The Snow Leopard, two nonfiction categories 1979 and 1980
  • Isaac Bashevis Singer, 1974 and A Day of Pleasure: Stories of a Boy Growing up in Warsaw, Children's Literature 1970

"Nonfiction" and nonfiction subcategories[edit]

  • Justin Kaplan, 1961, 1981 (Arts and Letters, Biography/Autobiography)
  • George F. Kennan, 1957, 1968 (Nonfiction, History and Biography)
  • Anne Morrow Lindbergh, 1936, 1939 (Non-Fiction, Non-Fiction)
  • David McCullough, 1978, 1982 (History, Autobiography/Biography)
  • Arthur Schlesinger, 1966, 1979 (History and Biography, Biography and Autobiography)
  • Frances Steegmuller, 1971, 1981 (Arts and Letters, Translation)
  • Lewis Thomas, 1975, 1981 (Arts and Letters and Science, Science)


  • A. R. Ammons, 1973, 1993
  • Alan Dugan, 1962, 2001
  • Philip Levine, 1980, 1991
  • James Merrill, 1967, 1979
  • Theodore Roethke, 1959, 1965
  • Wallace Stevens, 1951, 1955

Split awards[edit]

The Translation award was split six times during its 1967 to 1983 history, once split three ways. Twelve other awards were split, all during that period.[4]

  • 1967 Translation
  • 1971 Translation
  • 1972 Poetry
  • 1973 Fiction, History
  • 1974 Fiction, Poetry, Biography, Translation (3)
  • 1975 Fiction, Arts & Letters, The Sciences
  • 1980 Translation
  • 1981 Translation
  • 1982 Translation
  • 1983 Poetry, Children's Fiction paper, Children's Picture hard

Four of the ten awards were split in 1974, including the three-way split in Translation. That year the Awards practically went out of business. In 1975 there was no sponsor. A temporary administrator, the Committee on Awards Policy, "begged" judges not to split awards, yet three of ten awards were split. William Cole explained this in a New York Times column pessimistically entitled "The Last of the National Book Awards" but the Awards were "saved" by the National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1976.

Split awards returned with a 1980 reorganization on Academy Awards lines (under the ambiguous name "American Book Awards" for a few years). From 1980 to 1983 there were not only split awards but more than twenty award categories annually; there were graphics awards (or "non-literary awards") and dual awards for hardcover and paperback books, both unique to the period.

In 1983 the awards again went out of business, and they were not saved for 1983 publications (January to October). The 1984 reorganization prohibited split awards as it trimmed the award categories from 27 to three.


Split awards
  1. ^ a b Split award. In 1973 there were 12 winning books in 10 award categories.[5][6]
  2. ^ a b c d e Split award. In 1974 there were 14 winning books in 10 award categories.[5][7]
  3. ^ a b c Split award. In 1975 there were 12 winners in 10 award categories,[5] although the Committee on Awards Policy, temporary administrator, "begged" judges not to split awards.[8]
  4. ^ Split award. In 1972 there were 11 winners in 10 award categories.[5]
  5. ^ a b c Split award. In 1983 there were 22 winners in 19 award categories.[14]
  6. ^ Split award. In 1967 there were 7 winners in 6 award categories.[16]
    This was the first split National Book Award. It was also the inaugural award in a new category, Translation, with the standard $1000 cash prize donated by the National Translation Center. Judging by next-day coverage in The New York Times, only the five established award categories were covered by the January 31 announcement of nominees (finalists) and the March 4 announcement of winners (four days before the presentation). Henry Raymont, who would also cover the presentation, was evidently unaware of the new award, or of the increase in number to six categories. But the newspaper had announced it February 8 ("$1,000 National Book Prize Is Set Up for a Translation") and Lewis Nichols mentioned it again when Raymont did not ("IN AND OUT Of BOOKS: Translators").
  7. ^ Split award. In 1971 there were 8 winners in 7 award categories.[5]
  8. ^ Split award. In 1980 there were 29 winners in 28 literary award categories.[14]
  9. ^ Split award. In 1981 there were 17 winners in 16 literary award categories.[14]
  10. ^ Split award. In 1982 there were 19 winners in 18 literary award categories.[14]
  1. ^ a b c d e Irving, Cheever, Maxwell, and Welty won the 1980 to 1983 awards for general paperback fiction. None were paperback originals. Indeed, all four had been losing finalists for the Fiction award in their hardcover editions (two 1979, two 1981).
  2. ^ a b Lewis Thomas, The Lives of a Cell, won both the Arts and Letters and the Sciences awards in 1975.
  3. ^ a b John Clive, Thomas Babington Macaulay, won both the History and Biography awards in 1974.
  4. ^ a b Peter Matthiessen, The Snow Leopard, won the Contemporary Thought award in 1979 and the General Nonfiction, Paperback award in 1980.
  5. ^ a b Birdy by William Wharton, designed by Fred Marcellino, published by Alfred A. Knopf, won both the First Novel and Jacket Design awards in 1980, presumably received by Wharton and Marcellino respectively.


  1. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions". NBF: About Us. Retrieved 2012-01-05.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "2013 National Book Awards". NBF. Retrieved 2013-11-21.
  3. ^ "2013 National Book Award Finalists Announced". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
  4. ^ a b c National Book Foundation (NBA): Awards: "National Book Award Winners: 1950–2009". Retrieved 2012-01-05.
  5. ^ a b c d e "National Book Awards – 1970". NBF. Retrieved 2012-04-01. (Select 1970 to 1979 from the top left menu.)
  6. ^ Eric Pace (April 11, 1973). "2 Book Awards Split for First Time ..." The New York Times. p. 38. Retrieved January 25, 2012. (subscription or purchase required; title and abstract free of charge)
  7. ^ Steven R. Weismann (April 19, 1974). "Books Presents Its Oscars: Audience Wonders". The New York Times. p. 24.
  8. ^ William Cole (May 4, 1975). "The Guest Word: The Last of the National Book Awards?". The New York Times. p. 288.
  9. ^ a b c Leslie Kaufman (November 14, 2012). "Novel About Racial Injustice Wins National Book Award". The New York Times. Retrieved November 15, 2012.
  10. ^ Alter, Alexandra (November 19, 2014). "National Book Award Goes to Phil Klay for His Short Story Collection". The New York Times. Retrieved November 20, 2014.
  11. ^ a b c d "2015 National Book Awards". National Book Foundation. Retrieved November 19, 2015.
  12. ^ a b c d Alter, Alexandra (November 19, 2015). "Ta-Nehisi Coates Wins National Book Award". The New York Times. Retrieved November 19, 2015.
  13. ^ a b c "2014 National Book Awards". NBF. Retrieved 2015-02-04.
  14. ^ a b c d "National Book Awards – 1980". NBF. Retrieved 2012-04-01. (Select 1980 to 1983 from the top left menu.)
  15. ^ Alexandra Alter (January 31, 2018). "The Globalization of the National Book Awards". New York Times. Retrieved February 1, 2018.
  16. ^ a b "National Book Awards – 1960". NBF. Retrieved 2012-03-05. (Select 1960 to 1969 from the top left menu.)
  17. ^ a b "Books and Authors", The New York Times, Apr 12, 1936, p. BR12.
  18. ^ a b "Lewis is Scornful of Radio Culture: Nothing Ever Will Replace the Old-Fashioned Book ", The New York Times, May 12, 1936, p. 25.
  19. ^ a b c "5 Honors Awarded on the Year's Books: Authors of Preferred Volumes Hailed at Luncheon of Booksellers Group", The New York Times, Feb 26, 1937, p. 23.
  20. ^ a b c Ballots were submitted from 319 stores; there had been about 600 members one year earlier. "Booksellers Give Prize to 'Citadel': Cronin's Work About Doctors Their Favorite--'Mme. Curie' Gets Non-Fiction Award TWO OTHERS WIN HONORS Fadiman Is 'Not Interested' in What Pulitzer Committee Thinks of Selections". The New York Times. March 2, 1938. p. 14.
  21. ^ a b "Book About Plants Receives Award: Dr. Fairchild's 'Garden' Work Cited by Booksellers", The New York Times, Feb 15, 1939, p. 20.
  22. ^ "1939 Book Awards Given by Critics: Elgin Groseclose's 'Ararat' is Picked as Work Which Failed to Get Due Recognition", The New York Times, Feb 14, 1940, p. 25.
  23. ^ "Books and Authors", The New York Times, Feb 16, 1941, p. BR12.
  24. ^ a b "Neglected Author Gets High Honor: 1941 Book Award Presented to George Perry for 'Hold Autumn in Your Hand'", The New York Times, Feb 11, 1942, p. 18.
  25. ^ Who Walk Alone. product information with image of a Bookseller Discovery edition (37th printing). Retrieved 2012-01-30.
  26. ^ Who Walk Alone: The Life of a Leper. production information with 1942 subtitle. Retrieved 2012-01-30.
  27. ^ An American Doctor's Odyssey: Adventures in Forty-Five Countries. product information, 1936 first edition with subtitle. Retrieved 2012-01-30.
  28. ^ Ravenel, Mazÿck P. (1936). "An American Doctor's Odyssey". Am J Public Health Nations Health. 26 (10): 1045–1047. doi:10.2105/ajph.26.10.1045. PMC 1562849.
  29. ^ Book Review: The Country Kitchen by Della T. Lutes" (2009?). Organic Test Kitchen (blog by Theo). Retrieved 2012-01-30.
  30. ^ "Margaret Halsey, 86, a Writer Who Lampooned the English", Dinitia Smith, The New York Times, Feb 7, 1997. Retrieved 2012-01-30.
  31. ^ "The American Book Awards: 1980 Nominees", The New York Times, Apr 13, 1980, p. BR9.
  32. ^ "Styron and Wolfe Lead Book-Award Winners: Miss Welty Wins National Medal; Counterceremonies on West Side", Herbert Mitgang, The New York Times, May 2, 1980, p. C25.
  33. ^ "American Book Awards Are Given for 22 Works: Buckley and Galbraith Hosts; Choices Made by Juries", Edwin McDowell, The New York Times, May 1, 1981, p. C24

External links[edit]