The National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) is an American nonprofit organization (501(c)(3)) with more than 700 members. It is the professional association of American book review editors and critics, known primarily for the National Book Critics Circle Awards, a set of literary awards presented every March.
In the first newsletter three months later, President Ivan Sandrof proclaimed the primary purpose "to improve and maintain the standards of literary criticism in an era of diminishing and deteriorating values". At that time there were 140 members, with outreach to freelance critics planned for that year.
NBCC first presented its Awards in January 1976 to books published during 1975 in four categories.
A fifth award category for books (Autobiography/Biography) was added for 1983 and divided in two for 2005. Since 2005 there are eight awards. Six National Book Critics Circle Awards recognize "best books" published in the United States during the preceding year in six categories: fiction, nonfiction, autobiography, biography, criticism, and poetry. Annually "the most accomplished reviewer" among its members is recognized by the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing (from 1991).
The NBCC also recognizes no more than one person or organization for "exceptional contributions to books" with the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award (from 1981 under more than one name).All eight awards are officially dated in the preceding year.
In 2020, more than half of the 24 board members resigned over conflicting views on how to address perceived racial disparities both on the board, and within the industry they represent. This demonstrative revolt has also been attributed to breaches in confidentiality stemming from leaked emails, and the dismissive, antagonistic communication style of a long-standing board member, Carlin Romano, whom half the board members describe as a bully. Overall, the mass resignations amount to a controversy seen as part of an industry-wide reckoning concerning the lack of diversity in publishing  and literary awards.
First Board of Directors (1975)
Vice President Digby Diehl, Los Angeles Times
Secretary Nona Balakian, The New York Times Book Review
Treasurer Susan Heath, The Saturday Review
John Barkham, John Barkham Reviews
Alvin Beam, Cleveland Plain Dealer
Alice Cromie, Freelance Critic
Martha Duffy, Time
Eliot Fremont-Smith, The Village Voice
Elizabeth Hardwick, New York Review of Books
Herbert A. Kenny, Freelance Critic
John Leonard, The New York Times Book Review
Thorpe Menn, The Kansas City Star
Stanton Peckham, Denver Post
Peter S. Prescott, Newsweek
Larry Swindell, Philadelphia Inquirer
Jonathan Yardley, Miami Herald
1974-1976: Ivan Sandrof, Worcester Telegram-Gazette
1976-1982: Eliot Fremont-Smith, Village Voice
1982-1984: Richard Locke, Vanity Fair
1984-1986: Brigitte Weeks, The Washington Post Book World
1986-1990: Nina King, Newsday
1990-1992: Jack Miles, Los Angeles Times
1992-1994 Herbert Liebowitz, Parnassus
1994-1996 Carlin Romano, Philadelphia Inquirer
1996-1998 Art Winslow, The Nation
1998-2000 Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal
2001-2004 Elizabeth Taylor, Chicago Tribune
2004-2006 Rebecca Miller, Library Journal
2006-2008 John Freeman, Freelance Critic
2008-2011 Jane Ciabattari, Freelance Critic
2011-2013 Eric Banks, Bookforum
2013-2015 Laurie Muchnick, Bloomberg News
2015-2017 Tom Beer, Newsday
2017-2019 Kate Tuttle, Boston Globe
2019-2020 Laurie Hertzel, Minneapolis Star Tribune
2020-Present David Varno, Publishers Weekly
- National Book Critics Circle (NBCC): About: "Thirty-five Years of Quality Writing and Criticism". Retrieved 2012-02-02.
- "Frequently Asked Questions" Archived 2014-07-12 at the Wayback Machine (no date), NBCC. Retrieved 2012-02-02.
- "Membership" (no date), NBCC. Retrieved 2012-02-02.
- "The National Book Critics Circle Has Imploded". Vulture. June 16, 2020. Retrieved June 17, 2020.
- John Maher (June 15, 2020). "NBCC Board Gutted as Fallout Over Leaked Emails, Race Issues Widens". Publishers Weekley. Retrieved June 15, 2020.
- Official website
- How National Book Critics Circle Chooses Its Awards, by NBCC President Jane Ciabattari, The Daily Beast, January 22, 2011.