The National Book Critics Circle winners are announced — and they’re all women

Carina Chocano, shown at her Los Angeles workspace, won the NBCC criticism award for "You Play the Girl."
Carina Chocano, shown at her Los Angeles workspace, won the NBCC criticism award for “You Play the Girl.”
(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)
Books Editor

Women swept the National Book Critics Circle awards, announced Thursday night in Manhattan. Women prevailed in all of the six competitive categories.

Joan Silber took the fiction prize for her novel “Improvement,” published by independent press Counterpoint. The story of a single mother in Harlem who becomes involved in criminal schemes with her ex-boyfriend, “Improvement” is about human connection and how we are changed over time.

The nonfiction prize went to Frances FitzGerald for her book “The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America,” a sweeping history of the Evangelical movement from the Puritan era to the 2016 presidential election.


Layli Long Soldier won the poetry prize for her acclaimed collection “Whereas.”

The autobiography prize went to Xiaolu Guo for her book “Nine Continents: A Memoir In and Out of China.”

The prize in criticism went to Carina Chocano for her essay collection “You Play the Girl: On Playboy Bunnies, Stepford Wives, Train Wrecks, & Other Mixed Messages.”

The prize in biography went to Caroline Fraser for her book “Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder,” which tapped archival research to draw a fuller portrait of the author of the “Little House on the Prairie” books.

As a former member of the board of the National Book Critics Circle, I follow these awards with great interest. But I wasn’t able to attend — instead, like many others, I kept up with the proceedings on social media. Congratulations to all the finalists and winners.

5:25 p.m. This story was updated with the biography and nonfiction prizewinners.