Algis Budrys praised the novel as "a narrative so fully realized, so compellingly told, so masterfully executed." He found the book "a novel written by a magnificent writer, a totally compelling tale of human peril and striving under circumstances in which human love, and a number of other human qualities, can be depicted in a fresh context."
Harold Bloom listed The Left Hand of Darkness in The Western Canon (1994) as one of the books in his figuration of the Western canon saying that "Le Guin, more than Tolkien, has raised fantasy into high literature, for our time".
Left Hand won both the Hugo and Nebula Awards as the year's "best novel" according to convention participants and science fiction writers respectively. In 1987, Locus: The magazine of the science fiction & fantasy field ranked it number two among "All-Time Best SF Novels", based on a poll of subscribers.[b]