Biographer and critic Ruth Franklin

Ruth Franklin Wins National Book Critics Circle Award

On Thursday, Ruth Franklin took home the 2016 National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography. Franklin was honored for her biography of the writer Shirley Jackson “Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life.”

Franklin, a book critic whose work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Review Of Books, and Harpers, among other outlets, is a former editor at The New Republic. Her book “A Thousand Darknesses: Lies and Truth in Holocaust Fiction” was a finalist for the Jewish Book Council’s Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature in 2012.

Jackson, who gained attention for her horror-tinged short stories, most famously “The Lottery,” would have been 100 last year. (She passed away in 1965.) In October, the Forward’s Benjamin Ivry spoke with Franklin about Jackson’s life and work.

“Jackson didn’t identify as a Jew exactly but as someone with a very strong Jewish connection, which many of her readers might not have suspected,” Franklin said.

Other winners at the Awards included Margaret Atwood, who took home the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award, novelist Louise Erdrich, poet Ishion Hutchinson, critic Carol Anderson, memoirist Hope Jahren, novelist Yaa Gyaasi, who won the John Leonard Award for achievement in an author’s first book, and book critic Michelle Dean, who received the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing.


Talya Zax

Talya Zax

Talya Zax is the Forward’s culture fellow. Contact her at or on Twitter, @TalyaZax.

Recommend this article

Ruth Franklin Wins National Book Critics Circle Award

Thank you!

This article has been sent!