Zadie Smith, the author of “NW,” is one of 30 finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Awards, which will be announced Feb. 28. (Dominique Nabokob)

Accolades continue to pour in for “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk,” a novel about Iraq War soldiers, by Ben Fountain. It’s one of the 30 finalists named Monday morning by the National Book Critics Circle. The organization of critics also selected Katherine Boo’s “Behind the Beautiful Forevers,” which won the National Book Award for nonfiction in November.

The NBCC winners in fiction, nonfiction, autobiography, biography, poetry and criticism will be revealed at a ceremony at the New School in New York on Feb. 28.

Along with the finalists, the NBCC board also announced that the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing has been awarded to William Deresiewicz, a contributing writer for the Nation and a contributing editor for the New Republic and the American Scholar. For the first time, the Balakian Citation will carry a $1,000 prize. (The NBCC book awards come with no cash, but typically generate additional critical attention and sales.)

Feminist critics Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar will receive the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award.

Below is the full list of finalists. To read The Washington Post review, click on the author’s name. We’ll publish reviews of the Poetry and Criticism finalists in February.


“HHhH,” by Laurent Binet. Translated by Sam Taylor (Farrar Straus Giroux)

“Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk,” by Ben Fountain (Ecco)

“The Orphan Master’s Son,” by Adam Johnson (Random House)

“Magnificence,” by Lydia Millet (Norton)

“NW,” by Zadie Smith (The Penguin Press)


“Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity,” by Katherine Boo (Random House)

“Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power,” by Steve Coll (The Penguin Press)

“Why Does the World Exist? An Existential Detective Story,” by Jim Holt (Liveright/Norton)

“Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic,” by David Quammen (Norton)

“Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity,” by Andrew Solomon (Scribner)


“The Distance Between Us,” by Reyna Grande (Atria)

“My Poets,” by Maureen N. McLane (FSG)

“House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East,” by Anthony Shadid (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

“Swimming Studies,” by Leanne Shapton (Blue Rider)

“In the House of the Interpreter,” by Ngugi wa Thiong’o (Pantheon)


“The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson,” by Robert A. Caro (Knopf)

“All We Know: Three Lives,” by Lisa Cohen (FSG)

“Portrait of a Novel: Henry James and the Making of an American Masterpiece,” by Michael Gorra (Liveright)

“Robert Duncan, The Ambassador from Venus: A Biography,” by Lisa Jarnot (Univ. of California Press)

“The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo,” by Tom Reiss (Crown)


“Reinventing Bach,” by Paul Elie (FSG)

“Waiting for the Barbarians: Essays from the Classics to Pop Culture,” by Daniel Mendelsohn (New York Review Books)

“Madness, Rack, and Honey,” by Mary Ruefle (Wave)

“Stranger Magic: Charmed States and the Arabian Nights,” by Marina Warner (Belknap /Harvard)

“The Grey Album: On the Blackness of Blackness,” by Kevin Young (Graywolf)


“Bewilderment: New Poems and Translations,” by David Ferry (Univ. of Chicago)

“On the Spectrum of Possible Deaths,” by Lucia Perillo (Copper Canyon)

“Fragile Acts,” by Allan Peterson (McSweeney’s)

“Useless Landscape, or A Guide for Boys,” by D. A. Powell (Graywolf)

“Olives,” by A. E. Stallings (TriQuarterly/Northwestern)