Award-winning Memoirs

National Book Award (going back to 1950–winners and honor books)

Note: there is no separate category for memoirs; these are the memoirs that have won in the nonfiction category. The National Book Award is given out each November.

Just Kids by Patti Smith – 2010

The Suicide Index: Putting My Father’s Death in Order by Joan Wickersham – 2008

Brother, I’m Dying by Edwidge Danticat – 2007

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion – 2005

Waiting for Snow in Havana by Carlos Eire – 2003

American Chica: Two Worlds, One Childhood by Maria Arana – 2001

A Slant of Sun: One Child’s Courage by Beth Kephart – 1998

An American Requiem: God, My Father, and the War That Came Between Us by James Carroll –1996

In Pharaoh’s Army: Memories of the Lost War by Tobias Wolff – 1994

Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story by Paul Monette – 1992

One Writer’s Beginnings by Eudora Welty – 1984

Facts of Life by Maureen Howard  – 1981

Obituaries by William Saroyan – 1980 (verify auto)

Front and Center by John Houseman – 1980 (verify auto)

I’m Dancing as Fast as I Can by Barbara Gordon – 1980

Lauren Bacall: By Myself by Lauren Bacall – 1980

And I Worked at the Writer’s Trade: Chapters of Literary History by Malcolm Cowley – 1980

Brother to a Dragonfly by Will D. Campbell – 1978

The Diary of Anais Nin, vol. 6 by Anais Nin – 1977

Pentimento by Lillian Hellman – 1974

Images and Shadows by Iris Origo – 1972

An Unfinished Woman by Lillian Hellman – 1970

Stop-Time by Frank Conroy – 1968

In My Father’s Court by Isaac Bashevis Singer – 1967

Starting Out in the Thirties by Alfred Kazin – 1966

Paris Journal, 1944-1965 by Janet Flanner – 1966

My Wilderness by William O. Douglas – 1961

The Years with Ross by James Thurber – 1960

Act One: An Autobiography by Moss Hart – 1960

A Life in the Theatre by Tyrone Guthrie – 1960

Memories of a Catholic Girlhood by Mary McCarthy – 1958

A Walker in the City by Alfred Kazin – 1952 

This I Remember by Eleanor Roosevelt – 1950

National Book Critics Circle Award

Note: before 2005, autobiography and biography were a single category. The NBCC award is given out each March for books published the previous year.

Farewell, Fred Voodoo: A Letter From Haiti by Amy Wilentz – 2013
” a gritty, surprising memoir based on years of reporting from Haiti”

Swimming Studies by Leanne Shapton – 2012

The Memory Palace by Mira Bartok – 2011

Half a Life by Darin Strauss – 2010

Somewhere Towards the End by Diana Athill – 2009

My Father’s Paradise: A Son’s Search for His Jewish Past in Kurdish Iraq by Ariel Sabar – 2008

Brother, I’m Dying by Edwidge Danticat – 2007

The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million by Daniel Mendelsohn – 2006

Them: A Memoir of Parents by Francine du Plessix Gray – 2005

Angela’ Ashes by Frank McCourt – 1996

Shot in the Heart by Mikal Gilmore – 1994

Patrimony: A True Story by Philip Roth – 1991

Minor Characters by Joyce Johnson – 1983

Pulitzer Prize (going back to 1950)

Note: there is no separate category for memoirs; these are the memoirs that have won in the biography and autobiography category, which is why the list is sparse. The Pulitzer Prize is awarded in April for titles published the previous year.

Personal History by Katherine Graham – 1998

Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt – 1997

Fortunate Son: The Healing of a Vietnam Vet by Lewis B. Puller – 1992

Growing Up by Russell Baker – 1983

Memoirs by George F. Kennan – 1968