"I've wondered for many years if awards are good for literature," said Doctorow, who also won the critics' prize for his 1989 novel, "Billy Bathgate." "But I find when I'm offered an award I tend to accept it."
Svetlana Alexievich won the general nonfiction award for "Voices from Chernobyl"; Kai Bird's and Martin J. Sherwin's "American Prometheus" won for biography; and Francine du Plessix Gray's "Them" was cited for autobiography.
Two honorary awards were presented. Bill Henderson, an author, editor and founder of the Pushcart Press, received a lifetime achievement prize, and Wyatt Mason, a critic and translator whose essays have appeared in Harper's, The New Yorker and elsewhere, was cited for excellence in reviewing.
The National Book Critics Circle, founded in 1974, has about 500 members. There are no cash prizes for the group's awards.