Here are the finalists for the 2022 National Book Critics Circle Awards

2022 National Book Critics Circle awards finalists
The 2022 National Book Critics Circle awards finalists, announced Tuesday, include, from left: Debut novelist Tess Gunty, historian Kelly Lytle Hernandez and author Percival Everett. (Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times; John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; Wesley Lapointe / Los Angeles Times)
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Stories about a math professor recruited by an aspiring Bond supervillain, a young woman exiting her body and the true-life build-up to the Mexican Revolution are among the 30 finalists, published in 2022, chosen by the National Book Critics Circle on Thursday.

In addition to six subject categories — autobiography, biography, criticism, fiction, nonfiction and poetry — finalists were announced for the John Leonard Prize, given to an author for the best first book in any genre. One strong contender for that prize is Los Angeles-based author Tess Gunty, whose debut novel, "The Rabbit Hutch," has already won the prestigious National Book Award for fiction.

USC English professor Percival Everett was nominated for his novel “Dr. No." The L.A.-based author previously earned a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Pulitzer Prize nomination for his enigmatic novels.

"Bad Mexicans: Race, Empire, and Revolution in the Borderlands," by UCLA history professor Kelly Lytle Hernandez, is among the nonfiction finalists. The MacArthur "genius" grant recipient's work has largely focused on the Western roots of slavery and California's legacies of settler colonialism and genocide, as well as on mass incarceration in the U.S.

The NBCC this year introduced two new awards, the Gregg Barrios Book in Translation Prize and the NBCC Service Award. Among the translation finalists is Boris Dralyuk, who recently stepped down as editor in chief of the Los Angeles Review of Books, for his translation of "Grey Bees" by Ukrainian author Andrey Kurkov. In a first for the NBCC, Dralyuk will be competing directly for the prize against his spouse: Jennifer Croft is a finalist for her translation of "The Books of Jacob," by literature Nobel laureate Olga Tokarczuk.

The second-ever recipient of the Toni Morrison Achievement Award, which honors institutions that have made lasting and meaningful contributions to book culture, is the San Francisco-based bookstore and independent publisher City Lights, which since its founding in the early 1950s "has introduced American audiences to audacious new voices, inviting us to lunch with Frank O’Hara, wander with Marie Ponsot, and howl with Allen Ginsberg."

This year's recipient of the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award will be former U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo. Recognizing her three terms in the prestigious national post and as "a leading voice for Native American communities on and off the pages," the NBCC praised Harjo's work in "drawing upon the traditions of the Muscogee Nation and the vast landscape of her unbounded imagination."

"Harjo speaks in a distinctive, indelible language of myth and music," the NBCC continued in its statement announcing the finalists and winner. "She stands not only as a literary envoy for indigenous peoples everywhere, but also as the unrivaled ambassador of American poetry.”

Previous winners of the prize include Everett, Toni Morrison and Joyce Carol Oates.

Jennifer Wilson will receive the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing. The NBCC singled out Wilson's essay "The First Russian" in the New York Review of Books, about an unfinished novel in which poet Alexander Pushkin considered his great-grandfather, a Black African.

The NBCC Awards ceremony will take place on March 23 at the New School in New York City, in a ceremony that will be free and open to the public.

The full list of finalists:


Jazmina Barrera, "Linea Nigra: An Essay on Pregnancy and Earthquakes" (translation by Christina McSweeney)

Hua Hsu, "Stay True: A Memoir" 

Dorthe Nors, "A Line in the World: A Year on the North Sea Coast" (translation by Caroline Waight)

Darryl Pinckney, "Come Back in September: A Literary Education on West Sixty-seventh Street, Manhattan"

Ingrid Rojas Contreras, "The Man Who Could Move Clouds: A Memoir"


Beverly Gage, "G-Man: J. Edgar Hoover and the Making of the American Century"

Kerri K. Greenidge, "The Grimkes: The Legacy of Slavery in an American Family"

Jennifer Homans, "Mr. B: George Balanchine’s 20th Century"

Clare Mac Cumhaill and Rachael Wiseman, "Metaphysical Animals: How Four Women Brought Philosophy Back to Life"

Aaron Sachs, "Up From the Depths: Herman Melville, Louis Mumford, and Rediscovery in Dark Times"


Rachel Aviv, "Strangers to Ourselves: Unsettled Minds and the Stories That Make Us"

Timothy Bewes, "Free Indirect: The Novel in a Postfictional Age"

Peter Brooks, "Seduced by Story: The Use and Abuse of Narrative"

Margo Jefferson, "Constructing a Nervous System: A Memoir"

Alia Trabucco Zerán, "When Women Kill: Four Crimes Retold" (translation by Sophie Hughes)


Percival Everett, "Dr. No"

Jon Fosse, "A New Name: Septology VI-VII, trans. by Damion Searls"

Mieko Kawakami, "All the Lovers in the Night, trans. by Sam Bett and David Boyd"

Ling Ma, "Bliss Montage: Stories"

Namwali Serpell, "The Furrows"


Isaac Butler, "The Method: How the Twentieth Century Learned to Act"

Kelly Lytle Hernandez, "Bad Mexicans: Race, Empire, and Revolution in the Borderlands"

Joseph Osmundson, "Virology: Essays for the Living, the Dead, and the Small Things in Between"

Annie Proulx, "Fen, Bog, & Swamp: A Short History of Peatland Destruction and Its Role in the Climate Crisis"

Ed Yong, "An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us"


Mosab Abu Toha, "Things You May Find Hidden in My Ear"

Cynthia Cruz, "Hotel Oblivion"

David Hernandez, "Hello I Must Be Going"

Paul Hlava Ceballos, "banana [ ]"

Bernadette Mayer, "Milkweed Smithereens"

Gregg Barrios Book in Translation Prize

Boris Dralyuk’s translation of "Grey Bees" by Andrey Kurkov

Jennifer Croft’s translation of "The Books of Jacob" by Olga Tokarczuk

Fady Joudah’s translation of "You Can Be the Last Leaf" by Maya Abu Al-Hayyat

Mara Faye Lethem’s translation of "When I Sing, Mountains Dance" by Irene Solà

Christina MacSweeney’s translation of "Linea Nigra" by Jazmina Barrera

Mark Polizzotti’s translation of "Kibogo" by Scholastique Mukasonga

John Leonard Prize

Jessamine Chan, "The School for Good Mothers"

Jonathan Escoffery, "If I Survive You"

Tess Gunty, "The Rabbit Hutch"

Zain Khalid, "Brother Alive"

Maud Newton, "Ancestor Trouble: A Reckoning and a Reconciliation"

Morgan Talty, "Night of the Living Rez"

Vauhini Vara, "The Immortal King Rao"

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.