List of winners of the National Book Award

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

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

For pre-1950 awards in all categories, see 1935 to 1941.

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 AlgrenThe Man with the Golden Arm
1951William FaulknerThe Collected Stories of William Faulkner
1952James JonesFrom Here to Eternity
1953Ralph EllisonInvisible Man
1954Saul BellowThe Adventures of Augie March
1955William FaulknerA Fable
1956John O'HaraTen North Frederick
1957Wright MorrisThe Field of Vision
1958John CheeverThe Wapshot Chronicle
1959Bernard MalamudThe Magic Barrel
1960Philip RothGoodbye, Columbus
1961Conrad RichterThe Waters of Kronos
1962Walker PercyThe Moviegoer
1963J. F. PowersMorte d'Urban
1964John UpdikeThe Centaur
1965Saul BellowHerzog
1966Katherine Anne Porter The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter
1967Bernard MalamudThe Fixer
1968Thornton WilderThe Eighth Day
1969Jerzy KosinskiSteps
1970Joyce Carol Oatesthem
1971Saul BellowMr. Sammler's Planet
1972Flannery O'ConnorThe Complete Stories
1973John BarthChimera
  [lower-alpha 1] John Edward WilliamsAugustus
1974Thomas PynchonGravity's Rainbow
  [lower-alpha 2] Isaac Bashevis SingerA Crown of Feathers and Other Stories
1975Robert StoneDog Soldiers
  [lower-alpha 3] Thomas WilliamsThe Hair of Harold Roux
1976William GaddisJ R
1977Wallace StegnerThe Spectator Bird
1978Mary Lee SettleBlood Tie
1979Tim O'BrienGoing After Cacciato
Dozens of new categories were introduced in 1980, including "General fiction", hardcover and paperback, which are both listed here.[lower-roman 1] The comprehensive "Fiction" genre and hard-or-soft format were both restored three years later.
1980 hardWilliam StyronSophie's Choice
1980 pb[lower-roman 1]John IrvingThe World According to Garp
1981 hardWright MorrisPlains Song: For Female Voices
1981 pb[lower-roman 1]John CheeverThe Stories of John Cheever
1982 hardJohn UpdikeRabbit is Rich
1982 pb[lower-roman 1]William MaxwellSo Long, See You Tomorrow
1983 hardAlice WalkerThe Color Purple
1983 pb[lower-roman 1]Eudora WeltyThe Collected Stories of Eudora Welty
1984Ellen GilchristVictory Over Japan: A Book of Stories
1985Don DeLilloWhite Noise
1986E.L. DoctorowWorld's Fair
1987Larry HeinemannPaco's Story
1988Pete DexterParis Trout
1989John CaseySpartina
1990Charles JohnsonMiddle Passage
1991Norman RushMating
1992Cormac McCarthyAll the Pretty Horses
1993E. Annie ProulxThe Shipping News
1994William GaddisA Frolic of His Own
1995Philip RothSabbath's Theater
1996Andrea BarrettShip Fever and Other Stories
1997Charles FrazierCold Mountain
1998Alice McDermottCharming Billy
1999Ha JinWaiting
2000Susan SontagIn America
2001Jonathan FranzenThe Corrections
2002Julia GlassThree Junes
2003Shirley HazzardThe Great Fire
2004Lily TuckThe News from Paraguay
2005William T. VollmannEurope Central
2006Richard PowersThe Echo Maker
2007Denis JohnsonTree of Smoke
2008Peter MatthiessenShadow Country
2009Colum McCannLet the Great World Spin
2010Jaimy GordonLord of Misrule
2011Jesmyn WardSalvage the Bones
2012Louise ErdrichThe Round House[9]
2013James McBrideThe Good Lord Bird[2]
2014Phil KlayRedeployment[10]
2015Adam JohnsonFortune Smiles: Stories.[11][12]
2016Colson WhiteheadThe Underground Railroad
2017Jesmyn WardSing, Unburied, Sing
2018Sigrid NunezThe Friend


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.

1950Ralph L. RuskThe Life of Ralph Waldo Emerson (biog. Ralph Waldo Emerson)
1951Newton ArvinHerman Melville (biog. Herman Melville)
1952Rachel CarsonThe Sea Around Us
1953Bernard A. DeVotoThe Course of Empire
1954Bruce CattonA Stillness at Appomattox (third of 3 vols)
1955Joseph Wood KrutchThe Measure of Man
1956Herbert KublyAn American in Italy
1957George F. KennanRussia Leaves the War
1958Catherine Drinker BowenThe Lion and the Throne (see Edward Coke)
1959J. Christopher HeroldMistress to an Age: A Life of Madame de Staël (biog. Madame de Staël)
1960Richard EllmannJames Joyce (biog. James Joyce)
1961William L. ShirerThe Rise and Fall of the Third Reich
1962Lewis MumfordThe City in History: Its Origins, its Transformations and its Prospects
1963Leon EdelHenry 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.
1984Robert V. ReminiAndrew Jackson: The Course of American Democracy, 1833-1845 (biog. Andrew Jackson)
1985J. Anthony LukasCommon Ground: A Turbulent Decade in the Lives of Three American Families
1986Barry LopezArctic Dreams: Imagination and Desire in a Northern Landscape
1987Richard RhodesThe Making of the Atomic Bomb
1988Neil SheehanA Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam
1989Thomas L. FriedmanFrom Beirut to Jerusalem
1990Ron ChernowThe House of Morgan: An American Banking Dynasty and the Rise of Modern Finance
1991Orlando PattersonFreedom, Vol. 1: Freedom in the Making of Western Culture
1992Paul MonetteBecoming a Man: Half a Life Story
1993Gore VidalUnited States: Essays 1952-1992
1994Sherwin B. NulandHow We Die: Reflections on Life's Final Chapter
1995Tina RosenbergThe Haunted Land: Facing Europe's Ghosts After Communism
1996James P. CarrollAn American Requiem: God, My Father, and the War that Came Between Us
1997Joseph J. EllisAmerican Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson
1998Edward BallSlaves in the Family
1999John W. DowerEmbracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II
2000Nathaniel PhilbrickIn the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex
2001Andrew SolomonThe Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression
2002Robert A. CaroMaster of the Senate: The Years of Lyndon Johnson
2003Carlos EireWaiting for Snow in Havana: Confessions of a Cuban Boy
2004Kevin BoyleArc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age
2005Joan DidionThe Year of Magical Thinking
2006Timothy EganThe Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl
2007Tim WeinerLegacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA
2008Annette Gordon-Reed The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family
2009T.J. StilesThe First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt (biog. Cornelius Vanderbilt)
2010Patti SmithJust Kids
2011Stephen GreenblattThe Swerve: How the World Became Modern
2012Katherine BooBehind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity[9]
2013George PackerThe Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America[2]
2014Evan OsnosAge of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China[13]
2015Ta-Nehisi CoatesBetween the World and Me[11][12]
2016Ibram X. KendiStamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America
2017Masha GessenThe Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia
2018Jeffrey C. StewartThe New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke
2019Sarah M. BroomThe Yellow House


1950William Carlos Williams Paterson: Book Three and Selected Poems
1951Wallace StevensThe Auroras of Autumn
1952Marianne MooreCollected Poems
1953Archibald MacLeishCollected Poems, 1917-1952
1954Conrad AikenCollected Poems
1955Wallace StevensThe Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens
1956W. H. AudenThe Shield of Achilles
1957Richard WilburThings of This World
1958Robert Penn WarrenPromises: Poems, 1954-1956
1959Theodore RoethkeWords for the Wind
1960Robert LowellLife Studies
1961Randall JarrellThe Woman at the Washington Zoo
1962Alan DuganPoems
1963William StaffordTraveling Through the Dark
1964John Crowe RansomSelected Poems
1965Theodore RoethkeThe Far Field
1966James DickeyBuckdancer's Choice
1967James MerrillNights and Days
1968Robert BlyThe Light Around the Body
1969John BerrymanHis Toy, His Dream, His Rest
1970Elizabeth BishopThe Complete Poems
1971Mona Van DuynTo See, To Take
1972Frank O'HaraThe Collected Works of Frank O'Hara
  [lower-alpha 4] Howard MossSelected Poems
1973A. R. AmmonsCollected Poems, 1951-1971
1974Allen GinsbergThe Fall of America: Poems of these States, 1965-1971
  [lower-alpha 2] Adrienne RichDiving into the Wreck: Poems 1971-1972
1975Marilyn HackerPresentation Piece
1976John AshberySelf-portrait in a Convex Mirror
1977Richard EberhartCollected Poems, 1930-1976
1978Howard NemerovThe Collected Poems of Howard Nemerov
1979James MerrillMirabell: Book of Numbers
1980Philip LevineAshes: Poems New and Old
1981Lisel MuellerThe Need to Hold Still
1982William BronkLife Supports: New and Collected Poems
1983Galway KinnellSelected Poems
  [lower-alpha 5] Charles WrightCountry 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.
1991Philip LevineWhat Work Is
1992Mary OliverNew and Selected Poems
1993A. R. AmmonsGarbage
1994James TateA Worshipful Company of Fletchers
1995Stanley KunitzPassing Through: The Later Poems
1996Hayden CarruthScrambled Eggs and Whiskey
1997William MeredithEffort at Speech: New and Selected Poems
1998Gerald SternThis Time: New and Selected Poems
1999AiVice: New and Selected Poems
2000Lucille CliftonBlessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems 1988-2000
2001Alan DuganPoems Seven: New and Complete Poetry
2002Ruth StoneIn the Next Galaxy
2003C. K. WilliamsThe Singing
2004Jean ValentineDoor in the Mountain: New and Collected Poems, 1965-2003
2005W. S. MerwinMigration: New and Selected Poems
2006Nathaniel MackeySplay Anthem
2007Robert HassTime and Materials: Poems, 1997-2005
2008Mark DotyFire to Fire: New and Collected Poems
2009Keith WaldropTranscendental Studies: A Trilogy
2010Terrance HayesLighthead
2011Nikky FinneyHead Off & Split
2012David FerryBewilderment: New Poems and Translations
2013Mary SzybistIncarnadine[2]
2014Louise GlückFaithful and Virtuous Night[13]
2015Robin Coste LewisVoyage of the Sable Venus.[11][12]
2016Daniel BorzutzkyThe Performance of Becoming Human
2017Frank BidartHalf-light: Collected Poems 1965-2016
2018Justin Phillip ReedIndecency

Young People's Literature

See also the "Children's" award categories, immediately below.
1996Victor MartinezParrott in the Oven: MiVida
1997Han NolanDancing on the Edge
1998Louis SacharHoles
1999Kimberly Willis HoltWhen Zachary Beaver Came to Town
2000Gloria WhelanHomeless Bird
2001Virginia Euwer WolffTrue Believer
2002Nancy FarmerThe House of the Scorpion
2003Polly HorvathThe Canning Season
2004Pete HautmanGodless
2005Jeanne BirdsallThe Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy
2006M.T. AndersonThe Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. I
2007Sherman AlexieThe Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
2008Judy BlundellWhat I Saw and How I Lied
2009Phillip HooseClaudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice
2010Kathryn ErskineMockingbird
2011Thanhha LaiInside Out and Back Again
2012William AlexanderGoblin Secrets[9]
2013Cynthia KadohataThe Thing About Luck[2]
2014Jacqueline WoodsonBrown Girl Dreaming[13]
2015Neal ShustermanChallenger Deep[11][12]
2016John Lewis, Nate Powell, and Andrew AydinMarch: Book Three
2017Robin BenwayFar from the Tree
2018Elizabeth AcevedoThe Poet X

Award for Translated Literature

The first translation award ran from 1968-1983 and was for fiction only, the translated author could be living or dead (eg. 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 RabassaJulio Cortázar's Hopscotch
  [lower-alpha 6] Willard TraskCasanova's History of My Life (first of 6 vols.)
1968Howard Hong
Edna Hong
Søren Kierkegaard's Journals and Papers (first of 7 vols.)
1969William WeaverItalo Calvino's Cosmicomics
1970Ralph ManheimCéline's Castle to Castle
1971Frank JonesBertolt Brecht's Saint Joan of the Stockyards
  [lower-alpha 7] Edward G. SeidenstickerYasunari Kawabata's The Sound of the Mountain
1972Austryn WainhouseJacques Monod's Chance and Necessity
1973Allen MandelbaumThe Aeneid of Virgil
1974Karen BrazellThe Confessions of Lady Nijo
  [lower-alpha 2] Helen R. LaneOctavio Paz's Alternating Current
  [lower-alpha 2] Jackson MatthewsPaul Valéry's Monsieur Teste
1975Anthony KerriganMiguel de Unamuno's The Agony of Christianity and Essays on Faith
1977Li-Li Ch'enMaster Tung's Western Chamber Romance
1978Richard and Clara WinstonUwe George's In the Deserts of This Earth
1979Clayton Eshleman
José Rubia Barcia
César Vallejo's The Complete Posthumous Poetry
1980William ArrowsmithCesare Pavese's Hard Labor
  [lower-alpha 8] Jane Gary Harris
Constance Link
Osip E. Mandelstam's Complete Critical Prose and Letters
1981Francis SteegmullerThe Letters of Gustave Flaubert
  [lower-alpha 9] John E. WoodsArno Schmidt's Evening Edged in Gold
1982Robert Lyons DanlyHiguchi Ichiyō's In the Shade of Spring Leaves
  [lower-alpha 10] Ian Hideo LevyThe Ten Thousand Leaves: A Translation of The Man'Yoshu, Japan's Premier Anthology of Classical Poetry
1983Richard HowardCharles Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du mal
1984-2017(no award)
2018Margaret MitsutaniTawada Yoko's The Emissary

Children's Books

Children's Literature
"Children's Books" from 1970 to 1975.
1969Meindert DeJongJourney from Peppermint Street
1970Isaac Bashevis SingerA Day of Pleasure: Stories of a Boy Growing up in Warsaw
1971Lloyd AlexanderThe Marvelous Misadventures of Sebastian
1972Donald BarthelmeThe Slightly Irregular Fire Engine or The Hithering Thithering Djinn
1973Ursula K. Le GuinThe Farthest Shore
1974Eleanor CameronThe Court of the Stone Children
1975Virginia HamiltonM. C. Higgins the Great
1976Walter D. EdmondsBert Breen's Barn
1977Katherine PatersonThe Master Puppeteer
1978Judith Kohl
Herbert Kohl
The View From the Oak: The Private Worlds of Other Creatures
1979Katherine PatersonThe Great Gilly Hopkins
1980 hardJoan BlosA Gathering of Days: A New England Girl's Journal
1980 pbMadeleine L'EngleA Swiftly Tilting Planet
Children's Books, Fiction
"Children's Book, Fiction" in 1981; "Children's Fiction" in 1983.
1981 hardBetsy ByarsThe Night Swimmers
1981 pbBeverly ClearyRamona and Her Mother
1982 hardLloyd AlexanderWestmark
1982 pbOuida SebestyenWords by Heart
1983 hardJean FritzHomesick: My Own Story
1983 pb Paula FoxA Place Apart
  [lower-alpha 5] Joyce Carol Thomas  Marked by Fire
Children's Books, Non-fiction
"Children's Book, Nonfiction" in 1981.
1981 hardAlison Cragin Herzig  
Jane Lawrence Mali
Oh, Boy! Babies
1982 Susan BonnersA Penguin Year
1983 James Cross GiblinChimney Sweeps
Children's Books, Picture Books
1982 hardMaurice SendakOutside Over There
1982 pbPeter SpierNoah's Ark
1983 hardBarbara CooneyMiss Rumphius
  [lower-alpha 5] William SteigDoctor De Soto
1983 pbMary Ann Hoberman
Betty Fraser, illustrator  
A House is a House for Me

Nonfiction subcategories 1964 to 1983

For early awards in all categories, see 1935 to 1941.

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

"Arts and Letters (Nonfiction)" in 1964.
1964Aileen WardJohn Keats: The Making of a Poet (biog. John Keats)
1965Eleanor ClarkThe Oysters of Locmariaquer
1966Janet FlannerParis Journal, 1944-1965
1967Justin KaplanMr. Clemens and Mark Twain: A Biography (biog. Mark Twain)
1968William TroySelected Essays
1969Norman MailerThe Armies of the Night: History as a Novel, The Novel as History
1970Lillian HellmanAn Unfinished Woman: A Memoir
1971Francis Steegmuller Cocteau: A Biography (biog. Cocteau)
1972Charles RosenThe Classical Style: Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven
1973Arthur M. WilsonDiderot (biog. Denis Diderot)
1974Pauline KaelDeeper into Movies
1975Roger ShattuckMarcel Proust (biog. Marcel Proust)
  [lower-alpha 3] Lewis ThomasThe Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher[lower-roman 2]
1976Paul FussellThe Great War and Modern Memory

History and (Auto)biography

History and Biography

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


1972Allan NevinsThe Organized War (Ordeal of the Union, vols 7-8 of eight)
1973Robert Manson MyersThe Children of Pride: A True Story of Georgia and the Civil War
1973  [lower-alpha 1] Isaiah TrunkJudenrat: The Jewish Councils in Eastern Europe under Nazi Occupation
1974John CliveThomas Babington Macaulay: The Shaping of the Historian[lower-roman 3]
1975Bernard BailynThe Ordeal of Thomas Hutchinson (biog. Thomas Hutchinson)
1977Irving HoweWorld of Our Fathers: The journey of the East European Jews to America and the life they found and made
1978David McCulloughThe Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal 1870-1914
1979Richard Beale DavisIntellectual Life in the Colonial South, 1585-1763
1980 hardHenry A. KissingerThe White House Years (first of 3 vols)
1980 pbBarbara W. TuchmanA Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century
1981 hardJohn BoswellChristianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality
1981 pbLeon F. LitwackBeen in the Storm So Long: The Aftermath of Slavery
1982 hardPeter J. PowellPeople of the Sacred Mountain: A History of the Northern Cheyenne Chiefs and Warrior Societies, 1830-1879
1982 pbRobert WohlThe Generation of 1914
1983 hardAlan BrinkleyVoices of Protest: Huey Long, Father Coughlin and the Great Depression
1983 pbFrank E. Manuel
Fritzie P. Manuel
Utopia in the Western World


1972Joseph P. LashEleanor and Franklin: The Story of Their Relationship, Based on Eleanor Roosevelt's Private Papers (biog. Eleanor Roosevelt)
1973James Thomas FlexnerGeorge Washington, Vol. IV: Anguish and Farewell, 1793-1799
1974John CliveThomas Babington Macaulay: The Shaping of the Historian (biog. Thomas Babington Macaulay)[lower-roman 3]
  [lower-alpha 2] Douglas DayMalcolm Lowry: A Biography (biog. Malcolm Lowry)
1975Richard B. SewallThe Life of Emily Dickinson (biog. Emily Dickinson)
1980 hardEdmund MorrisThe Rise of Theodore Roosevelt
1980 pbA. Scott BergMax Perkins: Editor of Genius (biog. Max Perkins)

Biography and Autobiography

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


1980 hardLauren BacallLauren Bacall by Myself
1980 pbMalcolm Cowley And I Worked at the Writer's Trade: Chapters of Literary History 1918-1978


1981 hardJustin KaplanWalt Whitman: A Life (biog. Walt Whitman)
1981 pbDeirdre BairSamuel Beckett: A Biography (biog. Samuel Beckett)
1982 hardDavid McCullough Mornings on Horseback (biog. Theodore Roosevelt)
1982 pbRonald SteelWalter Lippmann and the American Century (biog. Walter Lippmann)
1983 hardJudith ThurmanIsak Dinesen: The Life of a Storyteller (biog. Isak Dinesen)
1983 pbJames R. MellowNathaniel Hawthorne in His Times (biog. Nathaniel Hawthorne)

Science, Philosophy and Religion

Science, Philosophy and Religion

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

The Sciences

1969 Robert Jay LiftonDeath in Life: Survivors of Hiroshima
1971Raymond Phineas SternsScience in the British Colonies of America
1972George L. SmallThe Blue Whale
1973George B. SchallerThe Serengeti Lion: A Study of Predator-Prey Relations
1974S. E. LuriaLife: The Unfinished Experiment
1975Silvano ArietiInterpretation of Schizophrenia
  [lower-alpha 3] Lewis ThomasThe Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher[lower-roman 2]


1980 hardDouglas HofstadterGödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
1980 pbGary ZukavThe Dancing Wu Li Masters: An Overview of the New Physics
1981 hardStephen Jay GouldThe Panda's Thumb: More Reflections on Natural History
1981 pbLewis ThomasThe Medusa and the Snail: More Notes of a Biology Watcher
1982 hardDonald C. Johanson
Maitland A. Edey
Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind
1982 pbFred Alan WolfTaking the Quantum Leap: The New Physics for Nonscientists
1983 hardAbraham Pais"Subtle is the Lord ...": The Science and Life of Albert Einstein (biog. Albert Einstein)
1983 pbPhilip J. Davis
Reuben Hersh
The Mathematical Experience

Philosophy and Religion

1970Erik H. EriksonGandhi's Truth: On the Origins of Militant Nonviolence
1972Martin E. MartyRighteous Empire: The Protestant Experience in America
1973S. E. AhlstromA Religious History of the American People
1974Maurice NatansonEdmund Husserl: Philosopher of Infinite Tasks
1975Robert NozickAnarchy, State, and Utopia


1980 hardElaine PagelsThe Gnostic Gospels (about Gnostic Gospels)
1980 pbSheldon Vanauken A Severe Mercy


Contemporary Affairs

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

Contemporary Thought

1977Bruno BettelheimThe Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales
1978Gloria EmersonWinners and Losers
1979Peter MatthiessenThe Snow Leopard[lower-roman 4]

Current Interest

1980 hardJulia ChildJulia Child and More Company
1980 pbChristopher Lasch  The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations

General Nonfiction

1980 hardTom WolfeThe Right Stuff
1980 pbPeter MatthiessenThe Snow Leopard[lower-roman 4]
1981 hardMaxine Hong Kingston  China Men
1981 pbJane KramerThe Last Cowboy: Europeans and The Politics of Memory
1982 hardTracy KidderThe Soul of a New Machine
1982 pbVictor S. NavaskyNaming Names (about the Hollywood blacklist)
1983 hardFox ButterfieldChina: Alive in the Bitter Sea
1983 pbJames FallowsNational Defense

Other Fiction 1980 to 1985

First Work of Fiction

First Novel
1980William WhartonBirdy[lower-roman 5]
1981Ann ArensbergSister Wolf
1982Robb Forman Dew  Dale Loves Sophie to Death
1983Gloria NaylorThe Women of Brewster Place
First Work of Fiction
1984Harriet DoerrStones for Ibarra
1985Bob Shacochis Easy in the Islands


1980 hardJohn D. MacDonaldThe Green Ripper
1980 pbWilliam F. Buckley  Stained Glass

Science Fiction

1980 hardFrederik PohlJem
1980 pbWalter Wangerin  The Book of the Dun Cow


1980 Louis L'Amour  Bendigo Shafter


General Reference Books

1980 hardElder Witt, editor  The Complete Directory
1980 pbTim Brooks
Earle Marsh
The Complete Directory of Prime Time Network TV Shows: 1946–Present

Original Paperback

1983Lisa Goldstein  The Red Magician

1935 to 1941

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

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)[lower-roman 5]


Book Design, pictorialIn China, photographed by Eve Arnold, designer R. D. Scudellari (The Brooklyn Museum)
Book Design, typographicalSaul Bellow, Drumlin Woodchuck by Mark Harris, designed by Richard Hendel (University of Georgia Press)
Book Illustration, collected or adaptedThe Lost Museum: glimpses of vanished originals by Robert M. Adams, designed by Michael Shroyer (Viking Press)
Cover Design, paperbackFiorucci: The Book, designed by Quist-Couratin(?) (Milan: Harlin Quist Books, distributed by Dial/ Delacorte)
Jacket Design, hardcoverIn China, photographed by Eve Arnold, designer R. D. Scudellari (The Brooklyn Museum)
1983 Pictorial DesignLewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, designer/illustrator Barry Moser, art director Steve Renick (University of California Press)
Typographical DesignA Constructed Roman Alphabet, designer/illustrator David Lance Goines, art director William F. Luckey (David R. Godine)
Illustration Collected ArtJohn Singer Sargent by Carter Ratcliff, designer Howard Morris, editor Nancy Grubb, production manager Dana Cole (Abbeville Press)
Illustration Original ArtPorcupine Stew by Beverly Major, illustrator Erick Ingraham, designer/art director Cynthia Basil (William Morrow Junior Books)
Illustration PhotographsAlfred Stieglitz: Photographs and Writings by Sarah Greenough and Juan Hamilton, designer Eleanor Morris Caponigro (National Gallery of Art/Callaway Editions)
Cover DesignBogmail by Patrick McGinley, illustrator Doris Ettlinger, designer/art director Neil Stuart (Penguin Books)
Jacket DesignSouls 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


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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

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. Split award. In 1973 there were 12 winning books in 10 award categories.[5][6]
  2. Split award. In 1974 there were 14 winning books in 10 award categories.[5][7]
  3. 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. 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. 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. Lewis Thomas, The Lives of a Cell, won both the Arts and Letters and the Sciences awards in 1975.
  3. John Clive, Thomas Babington Macaulay, won both the History and Biography awards in 1974.
  4. Peter Matthiessen, The Snow Leopard, won the Contemporary Thought award in 1979 and the General Nonfiction, Paperback award in 1980.
  5. 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. "2013 National Book Awards". NBF. Retrieved 2013-11-21.
  3. "2013 National Book Award Finalists Announced". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
  4. National Book Foundation (NBA): Awards: "National Book Award Winners: 1950–2009". Retrieved 2012-01-05.
  5. "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. 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. "2015 National Book Awards". National Book Foundation. Retrieved November 19, 2015.
  12. Alter, Alexandra (November 19, 2015). "Ta-Nehisi Coates Wins National Book Award". The New York Times. Retrieved November 19, 2015.
  13. "2014 National Book Awards". NBF. Retrieved 2015-02-04.
  14. "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. "National Book Awards – 1960". NBF. Retrieved 2012-03-05. (Select 1960 to 1969 from the top left menu.)
  17. "Books and Authors", The New York Times, Apr 12, 1936, p. BR12.
  18. "Lewis is Scornful of Radio Culture: Nothing Ever Will Replace the Old-Fashioned Book ", The New York Times, May 12, 1936, p. 25.
  19. "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. 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. "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. "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. "An American Doctor's Odyssey". Am J Public Health Nations Health. 26 (10): 1045–1047. 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
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