August, 2019

Funk it up with book reviews and more from our critics

by Carolyn Kellogg | Aug-19-2019

Elaine Szewczyk interviewed Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers about his forthcoming memoir, Acid for the Children, for Publisher's Weekly.

Martha Anne Toll reviewed The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom for NPR Books.

Also at NPR Books, board member Michael Schaub reviewed Tupelo Hassman's gods with a little g. Alexis Burling reviewed Hassman's novel for the San Francisco Chronicle.

Board member Carolyn Kellogg reviewed Téa Obreht's Inland for the Los Angeles Times.

Board member Mark Athitakis wrote about Howard Norman's new novel, The Ghost Clause, for the Los Angeles Review of Books

Kathleen Rooney reviewed Amanda Goldblatt's Hard Mouth for the Chicago Tribune.

Also for the Chicago Tribune, Julia M. Klein reviewed Sarah Valentine's memoir When I Was White.

Jacob Cline reviewed Gretchen McCulloch’s Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language for the Atlantic.

Sarah McCraw Crow reviewed Because Internet for Bookpage, where she also reviewed the novels Marilou is Everywhere by Sarah Elaine Smith and The Gifted School by Bruce Holsinger.

Natalia Hotlzman reviewed A Girl Returned by Donatella Di Pietrantonio, translated by Ann Goldstein, for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Tobias Carroll reviewed Kimberly King Parsons's Black Light at the Texas Observer and interviewed Cecelia Watson about her book Semicolon at Longreads.

Kathleen Rooney reviewed Trisha Low's Socialist Realism for the Chicago Review of Books.

Peggy Kurkowski reviewed Michael Patrick Lynch's Know-It-All Society: Truth and Arrogance in Political Culture, at Open Letters Review, where she also reviewed Assad or We Burn the Country by Sam Dahger in July.

Anne Charles reviewed Sara Stridsberg’s Valerie, or, The Faculty of Dreams at the Lambda Literary Review.

Jane Ciabattari interviewed Susan Straight, author of the new memoir In the Country of Women, at LitHub/BookMarks.

Tara Cheesman reviewed Anthony Horowitz' meta mystery The Sentence Is Death for the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Theodore Kinni reviewed Robert Wilson’s Barnum: An American Life for strategy+business.

Michelle Newby Lancaster reviewed Rule of Capture by Christopher Brown for Lone Star Literary Life.

K. L. Romo reviewed the YA novel Lizze by Dawn Ius for Washington Independent Review of Books.

Also for the Washington Independent Review of Books, Robert Allen Papinchak reviewed Richard Russo's novel Chances Are....

Lanie Tankard reviewed Dottoressa: An American Doctor in Rome by Susan Levenstein, MD, for the Woven Tale Press.

Terese Svoboda reviewed of Stephanie Strickland's poetry collection How the Universe is Made for Tarpaulin Sky.

More from our members:

Svoboda's eighth book of poetry, Theatrix: Play Poems will be published by Anhinga Press in 2021.

Publisher's Weekly called Meg Waite Clayton's forthcoming The Last Train to London "standout historical fiction"; Booklist gave it a star; and it will be on the September Indie Next list. She will also be a fellow at The Writer's Lab woring on her screenplay of the story.

Rayyan Al-Shawaf was interviewed about his novel When All Else Fails.

John Domini was interviewed about his novel The Color Inside of a Melon.

Nicole Rudick wrote about Charles Schulz and Peanuts for the NewYorker online in an essay that will appear in the forthcoming Library of America anthology The Peanuts Papers.

Abby Frucht's book of poetry Maids will be published in 2020 by Matter Press.

Elaine Szewczyk, who started this update with her interview with Flea, also had a humor piece published in McSweeney's

Photo: Flea, bassist of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, right, with singer Anthony Keidis, left, performing in Amsterdam in 1989. Credit Rob C. Croes via Wikimedia Commons.

Toni Morrison, Moby-Dick, and lots of late-summer reading

by Laurie Hertzel | Aug-12-2019

The first and biggest news of this past week was, of course, the passing of the great Toni Morrison, Nobel Prize winner, writer and mentor to so many. In 2015, the National Book Critics Circle honored her with the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award. You can watch Miss Morrison deliver her speech on our website.

Reviews and interviews:

Clea Simon  reviewed Sarah Elaine Smith’s gorgeous Marilou is Everywhere for the Boston Globe and also discussed Laura Lippman’s new Lady in the Lake for Artsfuse, in light of its timeliness.

Cliff Garstang reviewed Paul Tremblay's Growing Things for the Washington Independent Review of Books.

For Orion Magazine, former NBCC Emerging Critic Letitia Montgomery-Rodgers reviewed Thor Hanson’s Buzz: The Nature and Necessity of Bees, a fascinating combination of evolutionary biology, archaeology, art, history, literature, lay science, and ecology that plumbs the perennial connection between humans and bees. No link because Orion is print only.

Olga Zilberbourg reviewed an Azerbaijani novel, Farewell, Aylis, by Akram Aylisli, translated by Katherine E. Young, and published last year by Academic Studies Press for The Common. "A remarkable book, truly worth much wider attention than it has received so far," she says.

NBCC president Laurie Hertzel wrote her weekly column for the Minneapolis Star Tribune on the pros and cons of writing in books. She also appeared on the NPR show "On Point" to discuss summer books and, later, was on MInnesota Public Radio to discuss  Under Purple Skies, a new anthology of Minnesota writing for which she wrote the introduction.

Barbara J. King reviewed Charles King's Gods of the Upper Air:  How a Circle of Renegade Anthropologists Reinvented Race, Sex, and Gender in the Twentieth Century for NPR.

Jacob Appel reviewed Summerlings by Lisa Howorth for the New York Journal of Books.

Joan Gelfand reviewed The Jaguar That Prowls Our Dreams by Mary Mackey for PANK.

Ellen Prentiss Campbell reviewed Sadie Jones' The Snakes for the Washington Independent Review of Books.

Kathleen Rooney wrote about Moby-Dick for the L.A. Review of Books. Why, you might ask? The 200th anniversary. Taking part in a "Moby-Dick" read-a-thon. But also, she writes, because the novel is flawless, "not to be abridged," and laugh-out-loud funny. It also brings her sorrow, in the light of climate change and the current plight of whales.

Board member Katherine A. Powers wrote her monthly audiobooks column for the Washington Post about audiobooks with great narrators. (And not so great.)

Tara Cheesman reviewed Alix Ohlin's Dual Citizens for On the Seawall.

For the September issue of O, the Oprah Magazine Hamilton Cain covered new books from Sarah M. Broom, Ayse Papatya Bucak, Haben Girma, Maggie Paxson, Richard Russo, and Long Litt Woon. He also pulled together a roundup of political books for Oprah.com.

Jenny Shank reviewed Sabrina and Corina by Kali Fajardo-Anstine for High Country News.

Allen Adams reviewed First Cosmic Velocity by Zach Powers for the Maine Edge.

In this week's Lit Hub/Book Marks column, former NBCC president Jane Ciabattari interviews Jess Row, who recommends three books (including Middlesex) and two films (The Landlord from 1970 and this year's The Last Black Man in San Francisco) reflecting white flight.

 

Other news...

Hélène Cardona's new translation, Birnam Wood (Salmon Poetry, 2018), was reviewed by Rachael Daum in Bookaccino and by Jordi Alonso in World Literature Today. Cardona was awarded a 2019 Naji Naaman Literary Prize in June.

Susan Henderson, Lifetime Member of the NBCC, is the 2019 WILLA Literary Award Winner in Contemporary Fiction for her novel, The Flicker of Old Dreams. She's also a Finalist in two categories for the High Plains Book Awards, which will be announced in October. Later this month, she will be a guest on Yellowstone Public Radio's program, Resounds: Arts and Culture on the High Plains

Joan Gelfand was interviewed on Lit Pub about her new bookYou Can Be a Winning Writer: The 4 C’s of Successful Authors.

The photo of Toni Morrison was taken in 2013 during her lecture to the West Point Military Academy. The photo is in the public domain.

NBCC members: Send us your stuff! Your work may be highlighted in this roundup; please send links to new reviews, features and other literary pieces, or tell us about awards, honors or new and forthcoming books, by dropping a line to NBCCcritics@gmail.com.


Laurie Hertzel is the senior editor for books at the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the president of the NBCC board.

Toni Morrison in 2015

by Carolyn Kellogg | Aug-06-2019

Toni Morrison was awarded the Sandrof Prize for lifetime achievement by the National Book Critics Circle in 2015, accepting the award at our annual book awards ceremony in New York in March. After a gorgeous intro by Rita Dove, Toni Morrison's speech starts at 38 minutes in.

Critical Notes: Richard Russo, Pablo Medina, Science Fiction by Women, and More

by Mark Athitakis | Aug-05-2019

Elaine Szewczyk interviewed Sheila Weller about her forthcoming biography, Carrie Fisher: Life on the Edge, for Publishers Weekly.

Joe Peschel reviewed Chuck Klosterman's story collection, Raised In Captivity: Fictional Nonfiction, for the Oregonian.

Dana Wilde reviewed former Maine poet laureate Betsy Sholl's new poetry collection, House of Sparrows, in his Central Maine Newspapers “Off Radar” column.

Nicole Rudick reviewed The Future Is Female!: 25 Classic Science Fiction Stories by Women, from Pulp Pioneers to Ursula K. Le Guin, edited by Lisa Yaszek, for The New York Review of Books.

Board member David Varno reviewed Jess Row's essay collection White Flights: Race, Fiction, and the American Imagination for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Former NBCC president Jane Ciabattari interviewed Pablo Medina about five essential Cuban novels, ranging from Alejo Carpentier to Wendy Guerra, for Lit Hub/Book Marks.

Jeremy Lybarger reviewed Sara Stridsberg’s novel Valerie for the Baffler.

Martha Anne Toll reviewed Peter Kaldheim’s Idiot Wind for NPR Books.

Melissa Holbrook Pierson reviewed Lara Prior-Palmer’s memoir Rough Magic for the Rumpus.

Eric Nguyen reviewed Aigerim Tazhi’s poetry collection Paper-Thin Skin, translated from the Russian by J. Kates, for Empty Mirror.

Justin Taylor wrote about Robert Alter's translation of the Hebrew Bible and his monograph The Art of Bible Translation for Jewish Currents.

Jeffrey Mannix reviewed Lisa Sandlin’s Bird Boys for his Murder Ink column in the Durango (Colo.) Telegraph.

Grace Lichtenstein reviewed Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s novel, Fleishman Is In Trouble, for the NYCityWoman.com July books issue.

Letitia Montgomery-Rodgers reviewed Andrea Bobotis’ The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt, Brandi Homan’s Burn Fortune, and Virginia O. Bush and Ryan J. Bush’s A Singing Wire: Duets of Poems & Photographs, for Foreword Reviews.

Collette Bancroft reviewed Richard Russo’s novel Chances Are… for the Tampa Bay Times. Allen Adams also reviewed Chances Are… for the Maine Edge.

Michael J. McCann reviewed Owen Matthews’ debut thriller, Black Sun, for the New York Journal of Books

The bookish journal the Believer takes a musical turn in its latest issue; Zack Graham contributed “microreviews” of Kamasi Washington’s Heaven and Earth, Ross from Friends’ Family Portrait, and Pusha T’s Daytona.

Member News:

At the funeral for NBCC finalist George Hodgman on July 29, former NBCC director Steve Weinberg presented the eulogy, at the request of the family.

The Cannery Reading Series in West Philadelphia, co-founded by NBCC member Matthew Jakubowski, was named a Best of Philly 2019 honoree by Philadelphia Magazine. The series launched in 2018 and has featured more than 20 novelists, playwrights, translators, and short story writers. The next reading is September 5 at the Cannery at Dock Street Brewery.

NBCC members: Send us your stuff! Your work may be highlighted in this roundup; please send links to new reviews, features and other literary pieces, or tell us about awards, honors or new and forthcoming books, by dropping a line to NBCCcritics@gmail.com.

Photo of Chuck Klosterman by Rich Fleischman, used under Creative Commons license.

The Craft of Criticism: An Interview with Kerri Arsenault

by Tara Cheesman | Aug-01-2019

In this Q&A series, The Craft of Criticism, NBCC members Tara Cheesman and Fran Bigman ask book critics and review editors for their thoughts about contemporary criticism. 

Kerri Arsenault is an NBCC board member, the Book Review Editor at Orion Magazine, columnist at LitHub.com, Book Editor at Journal of the North Atlantic and Arctic. She is working on a narrative nonfiction book about a small paper mill town in Maine (St. Martin’s Press, March 2020). Literary Tweets @kerriarsenault.

How did you become a book critic?  

When I lived in Oakland, California, I had been reading friend and author Melanie Gideon’s manuscript for her memoir, The Slippery Year, and based on my input to her work, she suggested I pitch a book review to John McMurtrie, the book editor at the San Francisco Chronicle. Miraculously, he said yes. It was the first piece I ever published. I finally met him in March and thanked him in person for jumpstarting my writing career. If it wasn’t for him, I’d probably still be a paralegal or a ski bum, which come to think of it, wouldn’t be a bad idea. Reviewing books isn’t very lucrative. Neither is writing.

Do you have a specific method/way of working you apply when writing reviews?

I generally follow John Updike’s rules for criticism. The one rule I never ignore is: “Try to understand what the author wished to do, and do not blame him for not achieving what he did not attempt.” My method? It’s the same with anything I write; I scribble in the margins, dogear pages, take disorganized notes, draw images that mirror the structure of a book, circle terrible sentences and highlight good ones, go for a run, then I start writing.

You’ve profiled John McPhee and interviewed Barry Blitt for Lit Hub. What contributed to your decision to profile one and interview the other?

John Freeman, Executive Editor at Lithub, knew McPhee was my literary hero so when John asked if I would be interested in interviewing him when Draft No. 4 came out, I said hell yes. When I turned the piece in, it was a janky mess. John helped me shape it into a manageable animal. A profile made sense because McPhee is a master profiler and observer, and I wanted my piece to reflect that, though I didn’t get to observe him in his milieu as he does his subjects. We spoke only on the phone.

For Barry Blitt, an interview suited him because he is an artist who responds, sometimes immediately, to what’s happening in the world. A conversation is a responsive form, which is germane to how he works. Plus I met with Barry over lunch on his back porch and it was just more conversational. Our dialogue better revealed his political, funny, slightly deranged, illuminating, and smart self.  You never know what’s going to come out of Barry’s mouth or out of his pen. Why Barry? I love political cartooning and he is one of the best. Also, he lives in my town, and we’ve drunk a lot of wine together.

What’s it like being the Reviews editor at Orion Magazine? What are the challenges?

It’s the best job I’ve ever had; I get to work with smart, like-minded people who look out for each other, and such things as the planet, small birds, humanity, and big ideas.

The biggest challenge is finding the right books to review. I look for well-written, original, and intelligent books that examine the intersection of human experience and ecology, books that are not built on environmental writing tropes like mountaintop epiphanies or climate change doom, but on broader landscapes of the sociological, emotional, psychological, cultural, or physical kind. I’m essentially looking for books that exemplify the spirit of the stories that Orion publishes: unconventional but relevant, in our world but not known, that our audience may be interested in reading. I also scout books that Orion readers may not know about, so I take deep dives into academic, translated, and indie publisher lists.

When I find a book, I consider who is the best critic to write about it, maybe one who has a connection to the topic or who has something original to say about it. I’m also trying to assign books diverse in subject, genre, author, place, as well as assign a range of critics to those books. Then I look closely at the authors, too and sometimes consider socioeconomic status, race, gender, age, etc. It’s like a giant, spidery puzzle. Then I get pitches in from the ether and try to respond to them all, even working with or mentoring new critics who have potential. The world needs more analytical critics and I feel a responsibility to help them…if they want my help, that is.

Finally, we publish four issues a year and I only get space to publish six reviews, so that’s a challenge, too. I’m angling to do more because as we are all aware, our planet is in fucking peril and Orion is ground zero for examining related environmental issues.  

Books about the natural world seem particularly suited for longform reviews. Are there any critics writing right now who you see embracing the potential of these books?

A good critic is a good critic no matter what they review. And the Internet has the capacity to publish an infinite amount of words, so longform reviews make sense. Publications just have to pay critics for those longer reviews. That’s the problem.

I’m seeing publications and critics embracing coverage of Orion-y topics, though I do feel bludgeoned about the didactic pretense of many of them and that many contain the word “doom” in the title. I’m not saying books about the natural world should give false hope--or that there is any hope at all, especially after the United Nations assessment was published about the speed in which humans are altering the natural world by contributing to the deterioration of biodiversity and ecosystems worldwide. I’m just asking for a little nuance from voices we haven’t heard from before about places and concerns we haven’t heard about yet. Again, I’m not necessarily looking for books about the “natural world.” For instance plastic or dioxin is not part of the natural world, nor is a memoir about leaving Sarajevo (see Aleksandar Hemon’s new dos-à-dos memoir) but if they are good books that address topics in an interesting way, why not review them?

Speaking of nuance, Orion has a series called “Young Readers Ask” in which children ask writers questions about their books. For example, a seven-year-old asks David Wallace-Wells about climate change. It’s fantastic! How did it come about?

I came up with the idea after giving my nephew Jasper Wood a copy of Mark O’Shea’s snake book for Christmas last year. (The Book of Snakes: A Life-Size Guide to Six Hundred Species from Around the World, by Mark O’Shea. University of Chicago Press, 2018.) My nephew kept asking me questions about snakes so I figured, why not let him ask the author? I know nothing about snakes! I also loved the idea of Jasper’s innocent questions laid out to Mark O’Shea, a famous herpetologist.

I foresee this series being a balm to the snarky, negative, idiocy we see on TV when pundits ask questions they already know the answer to. It’s cliché to say kids are the future but they are, and they are going to be responsible for the future of all life on the planet. There’s an army of kids out there who read and have questions about the mess we are leaving them, so why not let them grill us adults about the who, what, and why?

We’ve been seeing a resurgence of nature writing. Why do you think there’s more interest now? And do you see anything new happening with the form?

There’s more interest because most people are taking climate change and species extinction seriously…but still not seriously enough. Humans are selfish. We generally worry about what affects us directly. In Litchfield County, Connecticut where I live and other bastions of privilege, we give lip service to climate change, oceans of plastic, bee decline. But what do we actually do? We buy bottled water by the case, use insecticides in our gardens, and chug around town in our diesel-fueled cars. As soon as environmental issues start affecting those who actually have the agency to do something about it (see above) things will change. The poor and underprivileged of this world have been suffering in toxic environmental ecosystems and landscapes for ages. They live amid our garbage, in sacrifice zones. But it’s hard for them to do anything when they are barely making minimum wage and suffering diseases our garbage gives them, while also not having access to health care. Mark my words: as soon as the power brokers start suffering, laws will change. So yeah, there’s interest and there’s a lot of revelation happening now, but there needs to be a political, legal, and cultural reaction to this literature. I’m not seeing much movement yet.

Most “nature writing” in its current form is problematic. Environmental writing historically has been white, privileged, rural-based and to be honest, those are most of the books publishers send me. We need to hear voices from the periphery, from urban landscapes, from people not living among nature. We need to examine the ideas that Rob Nixon enumerates in his book, Slow Violence and Environmentalism of the Poor, that there are other kinds of environmental disasters, ones that occur “gradually and out of sight” and are “attritional.” And we need to read stories that are less didactic, ones where humans, plants or animals are at the center of the narrative, not just data points. So perhaps if we change the form of these stories, we can change how people react to them.


 

July, 2019

Elvis and more star-studded new book reviews and stories

by Carolyn Kellogg | Jul-29-2019

Book critic Michael Lindgren, who has been writing for the Washington Post and other venues for many years, is setting criticism aside to for an equally noble pursuit: plunging deeper into the book business. He'll be managing editor of indie publisher Melville House soon; his final book review is for Newsday, of Richard Zoglin's Elvis in Vegas. Nathan Webster reviews the same book for The Daily Beast. But now, Elvis Michael Lindgren has left the building.

NBCC board member Carolyn Kellogg reviewed Lady in the Lake by Laura Lippman for Newsday.

At LitHub, Andrew Ervin writes considers George Orwell's close call with help from Robert McFarlane and Emily Wilson.

Emerson College journalism professor Tim Riley reviewed Emily Nussbaum's I Like to Watch for truthdig.

Kamil Ahsan reviews River of Fire by Qurratulain Hyder, re-released by New Directions in March, for The Nation.

John Domini reviews Harbart by Nabarun Bhattacharya, re-released by New Directions in June, for The Washington Post.

Former NBCC president Jane Ciabattari's August BBC Culture column includes new U.S. poet laureate Joy Harjo's An American Sunrise, the new story collection from Edwidge Danticat and memoirs from novelist Susan Straight and Sarah Broom.

Rancy Cepuch reviewed Joe Berridge's Perfect City: An Urban Fixer's Global Search for Magic in the Modern Metropolis for Washington Independent Review of Books.

Michelle Newby Lancaster reviewed Home for Erring and Outcast Girls by Julie Kibler for Lone Star Literary Life.

Lawyer and NBCC member Frank Housh talks to Caroline Fredrickson about her book The Democracy Fix for the American Constitution Society.

Pam Munter reviewed What the Eyes Don't See: A Story of Crisis, Resistance and Hope in an American City (the city is Flint, Michigan) by Mona Hanna-Attisha for Fourth and Sycamore, the literary journal of the Greenville Public Library in Greenville, Ohio.

James Scott reviewd The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells for the Wellington Square Bookshop in Exton, Pennsylvania.

Eric Nguyen reviewed If I Had Two Lives by Abbigail N. Rosewood for diaCRITICS.

For Textshop Experiments, Matthew Jakubowski continues his series of experimental book reviews writing on Aviaries by the late Czech author Zuzana Brabcová, newly published in English translation.

The inexhaustable Tobias Carroll has five new pieces this week: reviews of Rodrigo Rey Rosa's Human Matter for Bookforum and Paul Tremblay's Growing Things at Tor.com; an interview with Kate Zambreno at Longreads;  new books in translation to look for at Words without Borders; and Damon Krukowski's Ways of Hearing plus John Berger and media literacy at Electric Literature.

Hamilton Cain reviewed The Vexations by Caitlin Horrocks for The Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

MORE NEWS:

Daphne Kalotay's novel Blue Hours was published by Triquarterly Books/Northwestern University Press and reviewed in the Boston Globe.

RIP: We learned that writer and editor George Hodgman, whose book Bettyville was an NBCC finalist in autobiography in 2015, has died. Gentle and wry and a grounding force at Vanity Fair, George also worked as a book editor, editing many important books, including NBCC finalist Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age by Kevin Boyle. NBCC board member Elizabeth Taylor wrote about Bettyville when it was an NBCC finalist.

RIP: George de Stefano paid tribute to Italian novelist Andrea Camilleri, who died July 17 at age 93, at Popmatters.

RIP: Robert Birnbaum remembers Yippie writer and editor Paul Krassner, who died July 21 at age 87, at Our Man in Boston.

Natalia Holtzman wrote about the new Bob Dylan/Martin Scorsese film The Rolling Thunder Revue for The Millions.

Hamilton Cain (who also has a review noted above) wrote about the kindness of strangers for O, the Oprah Magazine.

​Richard Deming edited a special focus on “The Ordinary” for the current issue of American Book Review, including Yasmine Shamma reviewing Andrew Epstein's Attention Equals Life; Alan Gilbert reviewing Brenda Hillman’s Extra Hidden Life, among the Days; David LaRocca reviewing Toril Moi's Revolution of the Ordinary and more.

..

NBCC members: Send us your stuff! Your work may be highlighted in this roundup; please send links to new reviews, features and other literary pieces, or tell us about awards, honors or new and forthcoming books, by dropping a line to NBCCcritics@gmail.com.

..

Image credit: Elvis from Vegas.com 

A Free Hand With History, and Whitehead’s ‘Great American Novel’

by David Varno | Jul-22-2019

A historical novel and a nonfiction narrative each put their own stamp on the past with mixed results, according to NBCC member critics. In a review of Clare Clark's In the Full Light of the Sun for the Forward, Julia M. Klein calls the novelist's method a "buffet approach to mining history.” At the Washington Times, Philip Kopper writes that Tony Horwitz's Spying on the South is “vintage Horwitz. Awkwardly long, magisterially researched and curiously intimate, it is rich in delicious tangents and mind-bending excursions into cul-de-sacs of Americana — from contemporarily absurd to historically heinous.”

Meanwhile, the reviews for Colson Whitehead's The Nickel Boys keep rolling in. On Fresh Air, Balakian winner Maureen Corrigan called it a "great American Novel," while Zack Graham reviewed The Nickel Boys for or his Epiphany column, Allen Adams covered it for the Maine Edge, and Colette Bancroft interviewed the author for the Tampa Bay Times.

Kamil Ahsan called culture critic Chuck Klosterman's new collection of short fiction "undercooked" at the A.V. Club. Allen Adams also reviewed Raised In Captivity at the Maine Edge.

Jeannine Hall Gailey reviewed Jericho Brown's The Tradition in Barrelhouse, calling it “his most powerful, and his most technically accomplished” collection of poems to date.

Jean Huets reviewed Beirut Hellfire Society by Rawi Hage, a novel set during Lebanon’s civil war, at Ron Slate’s On the Seawall.

Writing for the Santa Barbara Independent, Brian Tanguay calls Pico Iyer's new travel book, Autumn Light: Season of Fire and Farewells, an “elegiac meditation on time, family, loss, and being fully present in the moment.”

Also this week, Julia M. Klein reviewed Isha Sesay's Beneath the Tamarind Tree for the Boston Globe.

Katharine Coldiron's work includes an interview with Costalegre author Courtney Maum at Bomb, an essay comparing David Shields's The Trouble With Men with Erica Garza's Getting Off at Vol. 1 Brooklyn, and an interview with The Last Englishman author Deborah Baker at Cagibi Lit.

Richard Z. Santos recently profiled Daniel Guiet (author of Scholars of Mayhem) for Kirkus Reviews and reviewed Paul Tremblay’s new collection of short stories (Growing Things) for Criminal Element.

Ann Harleman's review of The Need by Helen Phillips appeared in the Boston Globe.

Dana Wilde reviewed Linda Buckmaster's Space Heart: A Memoir in Stages in his Central Maine Newspapers Off Radar column.

Paul Gleason reviewed Joseph Sternberg's The Theft of a Decade: How the Baby Boomers Stole the Millennials' Economic Future in Pacific Standard.

K.L. Romo reviewed Father Sweet, J. J. Martin’s debut novel, and One Little Secret by Cate Holahan for BookTrib.com.

Eric Nguyen reviewed Evelyn Hampton's Famous Children and Famished Adults for Barrelhouse.

Alexandra Enders reviewed Hymn to Apollo: The Ancient World and the Ballet Russes, on view at NYU’s Institute for the Study of the Ancient World with an accompanying catalog from Princeton University Press for NYRB Daily.

Chuck Greaves reviewed Ruchika Tomar's A Prayer for Travelers in the July issue of the Four Corners Free Press.

Member news

C. Joseph Greaves' third novel, Church of the Graveyard Saints (Torrey House Press), has been selected as the inaugural 2019-2020 title for the Four Corners/One Book regional community-wide reading program for the Southwestern U.S. cities of Montrose, Cortez, Bayfield, Dolores, and Mancos (Colorado) and Moab (Utah.)  It will be in bookstores in September of 2019.

Page 1 of 380 pages     1 2 3 >  Last ›


About the Critical Mass Blog

Commentary on literary criticism, publishing, writing, and all things NBCC related. It's written by independent members of the NBCC Board of Directors (see list of bloggers below).

Subscribe






Categories & Archives

Make a tax deductible donation to the NBCC Join the NBCC/Renew
Emerging Critics

NBCC Awards

Finalists for 2018

See all award winners

Find out how to submit

Read how we select

Frequently Asked Questions




Videos and Podcasts

NBCC 2018 Awards Ceremony

NBCC 2017 Awards Ceremony

NBCC 2017 Finalists Reading

All videos and podcasts.



The postings on this blog represent the views and opinions of each individual poster and are not representative of views held by the National Book Critics Circle as an organization, or the NBCC board as a whole. Everything on this blog is copyright protected

Online Committee

Additional Contributors