Skip navigation
Skip content
2021 National Book Critics Circle Finalists

2021 National Book Critics Circle Finalists

Each year, the National Book Critics Circle presents awards for the finest books published in English in six categories: Fiction, Nonfiction, Biography, Autobiography, Poetry, and Criticism. Here are the finalists for the publishing year 2021!

Playlist Tags: awards: national book critics circle

View all playlists

How the Word Is Passed

A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America

By Clint Smith
Narrated by: Clint Smith
Length: 10 hours 6 minutes

If you enjoyed Long Time Coming, then you’ll love How the Word Is Passed.

“From plantation to Angola Prison. From Blandford Cemetery in Petersburg, VA to the African Burial Ground in New York City. From Île de Gorée to Whitney Plantation. From the Emancipation Proclamation to Juneteenth. Clint Smith takes us on an unforgettable journey through the history of slavery in the United States, revealing many truths we’ve never been told. Using lyrical prose, he creates a mesmerizing history lesson told through his personal lens. The facts are punctuated by his reactions to the spaces he visits and the stories he hears in each space. Hard truths told in beautiful language make this a book both highly informative and extremely accessible. Every American should listen to or read it; most of us have a great deal to learn and unlearn. And Smith’s poetic prose and personal voice keep it from feeling like the invaluable sociology and history lesson it is. Definitely one of the best books of the year.”

Raven Book Store image Nancy, Raven Book Store
Audiobook details Add to Wish List

Almost ready!

In order to save audiobooks to your Wish List you must be signed in to your account.

      Log in       Create account

The Family Roe

An American Story

By Joshua Prager
Narrated by: Elisabeth Rodgers
Length: 18 hours 40 minutes

A masterpiece of reporting on the Supreme Court's most divisive case, Roe v. Wade, and the unknown lives at its heart. Despite her famous pseudonym, “Jane Roe,” no one knows the truth about Norma McCorvey (1947–2017), whose unwanted pregnancy in 1969 opened a great fracture in American life. Journalist Joshua Prager spent hundreds of hours with... Read more »

Audiobook details Add to Wish List

Almost ready!

In order to save audiobooks to your Wish List you must be signed in to your account.

      Log in       Create account

Empire of Pain

The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty

By Patrick Radden Keefe
Narrated by: Patrick Radden Keefe
Length: 18 hours 6 minutes

NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE NOMINEE A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER • A grand, devastating portrait of three generations of the Sackler family, famed for their philanthropy, whose fortune was built by Valium and whose reputation was destroyed by OxyContin. From the prize-winning and bestselling author of... Read more »

Audiobook details Add to Wish List

Almost ready!

In order to save audiobooks to your Wish List you must be signed in to your account.

      Log in       Create account
Librofm App

Special offer

Free audiobook with membership

For a limited time, when you sign up for a new monthly membership with code CHOOSEINDIE, we’ll give you a bonus audiobook! That means you’ll have 2 audiobook credits to redeem from the start.

Claim special offer

A Little Devil in America

Notes in Praise of Black Performance

By Hanif Abdurraqib
Narrated by: JD Jackson
Length: 9 hours 38 minutes

A Little Devil in America

“I loved Hanif Abdurraqib’s A Little Devil in America. This essential book explores a handful of Black performers—some world-famous, others everyday people—across a wide variety of disciplines, seamlessly woven into snippets and stories from Hanif’s own life about Black culture and the performance of Blackness. JD Jackson’s low and easy narration is the perfect complement. Hanif’s commentary on tenderness and rage is especially moving.”

Raven Book Store image Mary, Raven Book Store
Audiobook details Add to Wish List

Almost ready!

In order to save audiobooks to your Wish List you must be signed in to your account.

      Log in       Create account

Gay Bar

Why We Went Out

By Jeremy Atherton Lin
Narrated by: Jeremy Atherton Lin
Length: 7 hours 52 minutes

As gay bars continue to close at an alarming rate, a writer looks back to find out what’s being lost in this indispensable, intimate, and stylish celebration of history. In the era of Grindr and same-sex marriage, gay bars are closing down at an alarming rate. What, then, was the gay bar? Set between Los Angeles, San Francisco, and London, Gay... Read more »

Audiobook details Add to Wish List

Almost ready!

In order to save audiobooks to your Wish List you must be signed in to your account.

      Log in       Create account

A Farewell to Gabo and Mercedes

A Son’s Memoir of Gabriel García MArquez and Mercedes Barcha

By Rodrigo Garcia
Narrated by: Rodrigo Garcia
Length: 2 hours 16 minutes

A Farewell to Gabo and Mercedes

“A beautiful, heartbreaking "son's memoir" from Rodrigo Garcia, son of "Gabo" Garcia Marquez. Despite its short, sparse chapters, this book is powerful and sad, powerfully sad. Of course, I wept (a lot), but in a good way. A poignant memoir about the terrible loss of memory, grief, and a son's abiding love for his father.”

Bookstore1Sarasota image Katia, Bookstore1Sarasota
Audiobook details Add to Wish List

Almost ready!

In order to save audiobooks to your Wish List you must be signed in to your account.

      Log in       Create account

A Ghost in the Throat

By Doireann Ní Ghríofa
Length: 7 hours 52 minutes

Winner of The James Tait Black Memorial Prize Winner of the Book of the Year, the Irish Book Awards Winner of the Foyles Non-Fiction Book of the Year Nominated for the Rathbones Folio Prize, Desmond Elliot Prize and Republic of Consciousness Prize A true original, this stunning prose debut by Doireann Ní Ghríofa weaves two stories together. In... Read more »

Audiobook details Add to Wish List

Almost ready!

In order to save audiobooks to your Wish List you must be signed in to your account.

      Log in       Create account

Concepcion

An Immigrant Family's Fortunes

By Albert Samaha
Narrated by: Albert Samaha
Length: 11 hours 24 minutes

“Absolutely extraordinary...A landmark in the contemporary literature of the diaspora.” —Jia Tolentino, author of Trick Mirror

“If Concepcion were only about Samaha’s mother, it would already be wholly worthwhile. But she was one of eight children in the Concepcion family, whose ancestry Samaha traces in this. . . powerful book.” –The New York...
Read more »

Audiobook details Add to Wish List

Almost ready!

In order to save audiobooks to your Wish List you must be signed in to your account.

      Log in       Create account

Fierce Poise

Helen Frankenthaler and 1950s New York

By Alexander Nemerov
Narrated by: Alison Fraser
Length: 8 hours 2 minutes

A National Book Critics Circle finalist • One of Vogue's Best Books of the Year

A dazzling biography of one of the twentieth century's most respected painters, Helen Frankenthaler, as she came of age as an artist in postwar New York

“The magic of Alexander Nemerov's portrait of Helen Frankenthaler in Fierce Poise is that it reads like one of...
Read more »

Audiobook details Add to Wish List

Almost ready!

In order to save audiobooks to your Wish List you must be signed in to your account.

      Log in       Create account

Mike Nichols

A Life

By Mark Harris
Narrated by: George Newbern
Length: 20 hours 34 minutes

A National Book Critics Circle finalist One of People's top 10 books of 2021 An instant New York Times bestseller • Named a best book of the year by NPR and Time

A magnificent biography of one of the most protean creative forces in American entertainment history, a life of dazzling highs and vertiginous plungessome of the worst largely...
Read more »

Audiobook details Add to Wish List

Almost ready!

In order to save audiobooks to your Wish List you must be signed in to your account.

      Log in       Create account

All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days

The True Story of the American Woman at the Heart of the German Resistance to Hitler

By Rebecca Donner
Narrated by: Rebecca Donner
Length: 13 hours 48 minutes

The INSTANT New York Times Bestseller

Winner of the 2022 PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography and the National Book Critics Circle Award
Finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award
Finalist for the Plutarch Award


A New York Times Notable Book of 2021
New York Times BookReview Editors’ Choice
New York Times Critics' Top Pick of 2021

Wall...

Read more »

Audiobook details Add to Wish List

Almost ready!

In order to save audiobooks to your Wish List you must be signed in to your account.

      Log in       Create account

Until I Am Free

Fannie Lou Hamer's Enduring Message to America

By Keisha N. Blain
Narrated by: Tyra Kennedy
Length: 7 hours 1 minutes

Explores the Black activist’s ideas and political strategies, highlighting their relevance for tackling modern social issues including voter suppression, police violence, and economic inequality.

“We have a long fight and this fight is not mine alone, but you are not free whether you are white or black, until I am free.”—Fannie Lou Hamer

A... Read more »

Audiobook details Add to Wish List

Almost ready!

In order to save audiobooks to your Wish List you must be signed in to your account.

      Log in       Create account

Clairvoyant of the Small

The Life of Robert Walser

By Susan Bernofsky
Narrated by: Natasha Soudek
Length: 15 hours 41 minutes

The first English-language biography of one of the great literary talents of the twentieth century, written by his award-winning translator

The great Swiss-German modernist author Robert Walser lived eccentrically on the fringes of society, shocking his Berlin friends by enrolling in butler school and later developing an urban-nomad lifestyle... Read more »

Audiobook details Add to Wish List

Almost ready!

In order to save audiobooks to your Wish List you must be signed in to your account.

      Log in       Create account

The Right to Sex

Feminism in the Twenty-First Century

By Amia Srinivasan
Narrated by: Andia Winslow
Length: 6 hours 42 minutes

“Laser-cut writing and a stunning intellect. If only every writer made this much beautiful sense.”
—Lisa Taddeo, author of Three Women

“Amia Srinivasan is an unparalleled and extraordinary writer—no one X-rays an argument, a desire, a contradiction, a defense mechanism quite like her. In stripping the new politics of sex and power down to its...

Read more »

Audiobook details Add to Wish List

Almost ready!

In order to save audiobooks to your Wish List you must be signed in to your account.

      Log in       Create account

Who Will Pay Reparations on My Soul?

By Jesse McCarthy
Narrated by: Terrence Kidd
Length: 12 hours 6 minutes

Even as our world has suffered through successive upheavals, Jesse McCarthy contends, "something was happening in the world of culture: a surging and unprecedented visibility at every level of black art making." Who Will Pay Reparations on My Soul? reckons with this resurgence, arguing for the central role of art and intellectual culture in an... Read more »

Audiobook details Add to Wish List

Almost ready!

In order to save audiobooks to your Wish List you must be signed in to your account.

      Log in       Create account

Harlem Shuffle

A Novel

By Colson Whitehead
Narrated by: Dion Graham
Length: 10 hours 35 minutes

Harlem Shuffle

“A love letter to 1960s Harlem that’s also a heist novel, a family saga, and so much more. Colson Whitehead proves once again that he’s always at the top of his game!”

Copper Dog Books image Alyssa Raymond, Copper Dog Books
Audiobook details Add to Wish List

Almost ready!

In order to save audiobooks to your Wish List you must be signed in to your account.

      Log in       Create account

The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois

An Oprah’s Book Club Novel

By Honoree Fanonne Jeffers
Narrated by: Adenrele Ojo, Karen Chilton & Prentice Onayemi
Length: 29 hours 48 minutes

If you enjoyed The Underground Railroad (Television Tie-in), then you’ll love The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois.

“At 29 hours this one might seem like quite a commitment, but after traveling the century with them, you’ll deeply miss the echoes of the voices of Ailey and Belle and even good old Uncle Root.”

The Country Bookshop image Angie, The Country Bookshop
Audiobook details Add to Wish List

Almost ready!

In order to save audiobooks to your Wish List you must be signed in to your account.

      Log in       Create account

Burntcoat

A Novel

By Sarah Hall
Narrated by: Louise Brealey
Length: 6 hours 7 minutes

A NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE NOMINEE

"An extraordinary work that will stand as blazing witness to the age that bore it.” -- Sarah Perry

A "masterpiece" (Daisy Johnson) of mortality, passion, and human connection, set against the backdrop of a deadly global virus—from the Booker–nominated writer

You were the last one here, before I closed the door...

Read more »

Audiobook details Add to Wish List

Almost ready!

In order to save audiobooks to your Wish List you must be signed in to your account.

      Log in       Create account

Second Place

A Novel

By Rachel Cusk
Narrated by: Kate Fleetwood
Length: 6 hours 18 minutes

Second Place

“A great book from one of the most perceptive authors working. The book mostly focuses on what happens when a celebrated artist comes to stay at the narrator's home. There are plenty of striking ruminations on the nature of love and relationships, but what stuck with me was when the novel commented on art and the relationships artists have with those around them. Also, the book is full of great lines to savor. It seems Rachel Cusk has carved a lane for herself in the current literary landscape and I'm excited to see what she does next.”

Malaprop's Bookstore image James, Malaprop's Bookstore
Audiobook details Add to Wish List

Almost ready!

In order to save audiobooks to your Wish List you must be signed in to your account.

      Log in       Create account

Afterparties

Stories

By Anthony Veasna So
Narrated by: Jason Sean
Length: 6 hours 56 minutes

Afterparties

“These stories of the members of a compact Cambodian-American community, from the refugees to the business owners to the gay teenagers, seamlessly balance humor with hardships.”

Sofia Silva Wright image Sofia Silva Wright, Phoenix Books Burlington
Audiobook details Add to Wish List

Almost ready!

In order to save audiobooks to your Wish List you must be signed in to your account.

      Log in       Create account
  • 1