The National Book Critics Circle needs your help

National Book Critics Circle president Laurie Hertzel published an open letter asking for literary critics and fans of literary criticism to donate to the NBCC:

Since 1974, the NBCC has offered two kinds of memberships—voting, and non-voting. Voting memberships ($50/year) are available exclusively to working critics and book review editors. Voting members have a say in choosing the John Leonard Prize for best first book, and in selecting candidates for the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award. They can nominate their own work for the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing, which carries our only cash prize—$1,000. And they can, of course, attend the annual meeting, run for the board and get further involved in a multitude of ways. We have adjusted our requirements, and you can now join with just one published review.

I've never been a member of the NBCC, mostly due to my instinctual belief in the old "never join a club that would have you as a member" schtick. And if you really want to support literary criticism as a necessary part of the cultural conversation, I'd just encourage you to start reviewing books that you read as a regular practice.

But if you want to support literary criticism in newspaper journalism, supporting the NBCC would be a good thing to do. Simply subscribing to newspapers isn't enough anymore — book review sections of papers are the first to be cut, and book reviewers are seen as expendable in the newspaper business. So donating to the NBCC sends a very specific message to an audience that desperately cares where you're sending your money.