Critical Notes

Roundup: Egan’s Pulitzer, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and more

By Mark Athitakis

Jennifer EganLast week, Jennifer Egan’s A Visit From the Goon Squad won the Pulitzer Prize in fiction, a little more than a month after the book received the NBCC’s award in fiction. The win prompted  Ann Powers at NPR to consider if pop-music writing is “sneaking into the history of arts and letters through fiction's back door.” In the National, Ben East argues that Egan’s win offers a “real sense that American fiction is where some of the most exciting writing is taking place right now.”

In the Guardian, NBCC criticism finalist Elif Batuman recalls her trip to New York for the NBCC awards, where she didn’t win but did get to ask Jonathan Franzen if he had any weed.

Last week marked the launch of the online-only Los Angeles Review of Books, which has thus far featured essays by Jane Smiley on Nancy Mitford, Geoff Nicholson on Buster Keaton, and more. Its list of forthcoming articles is a long one, and a print version is “in the works” as well.

More in LA: This Thursday NBCC board member David L. Ulin will host “The Pale King: Monologues From the Unfinished Novel by David Foster Wallace,” presented by PEN Center USA at the Saban Theatre and featuring readings from Henry Rollins, Josh Radnor, Megan Mullally, and more. More information is available at the event’s Facebook page.

New York Review of Books cofounder Robert Silvers discusses the decision to bring the magazine to the Kindle.

Laura Bennett reviews Tina Fey’s Bossypants in the New Republic.

Laura Miller reviews Arthur Phillips’ The Tragedy of Arthur in Salon.

In the Millions, Garth Risk Hallberg reconsiders Zadie Smith’s consideration of Tom McCarthy’s Remainder and questions whether it qualifies as an avant-garde novel.

Carolyn Kellogg reviews Meghan O’Rourke’s memoir The Long Goodbye in the Los Angeles Times.

As part of an ongoing series at Writers Without Borders, Rigoberto Gonzalez, Scott Esposito, and others consider how a critic can best approach reviewing translations.

Sam Sacks reviews a trio of novels in the Wall Street Journal, including Francine Prose’s My New American Life, Chika Unigwe’s On Black Sisters Street, and Suri Hustvedt’s The Summer Without Men.


Jennifer Egan, accepting the National Book Critics Circle award in fiction, photo by Miriam Berkley.