Top row: Teju Cole, Marie Ndiaye, Jonny Steinberg. Bottom row: Ahmed Naji, Romeo Oriogun, Azo Vauguy.

Six African authors have made it to the finals of the 2023 National Book Critics Circle Awards. What a great achievement.

The National Book Critics Circle honors outstanding writing and fosters a national conversation about reading, criticism, and literature. Founded in 1976, the NBCC Awards are the only national literary awards chosen by critics themselves to promote “the finest books and reviews published in English”.

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. In addition, they award the John Leonard Prize for the best first book in any genre, the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing, the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award and Toni Morrison Achievement Award, as well as the Gregg Barrios Book in Translation Prize.

Check out this year’s finalists in the categories below:


This year, two out of the five finalists in the “Fiction” category are African. Nigerian-American writer-photographer Teju Cole’s Tremor and Senegale-French author Marie Ndiaye’s Vengeance is Mine, translated by Jordan Stump, have been chosen.


While nonfiction does not include any African finalists, the category of “Biography” includes one finalist, South African writer Jonny Steinberg’s Winny and Nelson: Portrait of a Marriage.


The category of “Autobiograpy” also includes one African finalist – Egyptian writer Ahmed Naji’s Rotten Evidence: Reading and Writing in an Egyptian Prison, translated by Katherine Halls. We also included this book in our 100 Notable African Books of 2023 list.


In the “Poetry” category, we have Nigerian poet Romeo Oriogun’s The Gathering of Bastards.

Gregg Barrios Book in Translation

Although there are no African authors in the Criticism and Best First Book categories, the translation category includes Bété poet Azo Vauguy’s Zakwato & Loglêdou’s Peril, translated by Todd Fredson.

Congrats to all six African finalists! The winners will be announced at the award ceremony on March 21.