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.

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/autobiography category. The Pulitzer Prize is awarded in April.  

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