National Book Critics Circle Award

There are many writers of African descent who are finalists at the US’ National Book Critics Circle Awards 2021 announced on January 20, 2022.

The National Book Critics Circle, considered one of the most prestigious awards in the US publishing industry, was founded in 1974, and awarded its first set of honors the following year. Comprising more than 600 working critics and book-review editors throughout the country, it annually bestows its awards in six categories, honoring the best books published in the past year in the United States. The finalists for the NBCC awards are nominated, evaluated, and selected by the 24-member board of directors, which consists of critics and editors from some of the country’s leading print and online publications, as well as critics whose works appear in these publications.

The National Book Critics Circle has announced its 30 finalists in six categories—autobiography, biography, criticism, fiction, general nonfiction, and poetry—for the best books of 2021. Writers of African descent who made the cut are;


  • Hanif Abdurraqib, A Little Devil in America: Notes In Praise Of Black Performance (Random House)


  • Keisha N. Blain, Until I Am Free: Fannie Lou Hamer’s Enduring Message to America (Beacon Press)


  • Jesse McCarthy, Who Will Pay Reparations On My Soul? (Liveright)


  • Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, The Love Songs of W.E.B. DuBois (Harper)
  • Colson Whitehead, Harlem Shuffle (Doubleday)


  • Clint Smith, How the Word Is Passed (Little, Brown)


  • Donika Kelly, The Renunciations (Graywolf)
  • Cheswayo Mphanza, The Rhinehart Frames (Univ. of Nebraska)

John Leonard Prize

  • Ashley C. Ford, Somebody’s Daughter (Flatiron Books)
  • Jocelyn Nicole Johnson, My Monticello (Henry Holt)

The winners in the various categories will be announced in a ceremony on March 17, 2022.