The National Book Critics Circle released the findings of its poll ranking the best books of the year. Here’s what the nation’s book critics think.


1) Junot Diaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Riverhead)

2) Denis Johnson, Tree of Smoke (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

3) Michael Chabon, The Yiddish Policeman’s Union (HarperCollins)

4) Philip Roth, Exit Ghost (Houghton Mifflin)

5) Per Petterson, Out Stealing Horses (Graywolf)


1) Edwidge Danticat, Brother, I’m Dying (Knopf)

2) Alan Weisman, The World Without Us (St. Martin’s)

3) Noami Klein, The Shock Doctrine (Metropolitan)

4) David Michaelis, Schulz and the Peanuts (HarperCollins)

5) Tim Weiner, Legacy of Ashes (Doubleday)


1) Robert Hass, Time and Materials: Poems 1997-2005*

2) Zbigniew Herbert, Collected Poems: 1956-1998 (Ecco)*

3) Robert Pinsky, Gulf Music (Farrar Straus & Giroux)*

4) Rae Armantrout, Next Life (Wesleyan)

5) Mary Jo Bang, Elegy (Graywolf)

*there was a three-way tie for first in poetry.

Thanks to Scott McLemee at Quick Study