Critical Notes

Roundup: Summer reading, China Mieville, more

By Mark Athitakis

Laura Miller, Balakian winner Ron Charles, and NBCC board member Rigoberto Gonzales share their summer reading recommendations (incluing Daniel Orozco's story collection Orientation) at

A. Whitney Ellsworth, the first publisher of the New York Review of Books, died June 18 at 75. According to the New York Times obituary, he helped the review’s circulation rise to 83,000 in its first five years and become profitable within three years.

Matthew Jakubowski reviews Miroslav Penkov’s story collection East of the West, in Philadelphia City Paper.

Carolyn Kellogg reviews China Miéville’s Embassytown in the Los Angeles Times.

Michael Lindgren reviews three story collections—E.L. Doctorow’s All the Time in the World, Alexander MacLeod’s Light Lifting, and Jim Shepard’s You Think That’s Bad—in the Washington Post.

Michael O’Donnell reviews David S. Reynolds’ Mightier Than the Sword: Uncle Tom’s Cabin and the Battle for America at the Barnes and Noble Review.

Carlin Romano reviews two new books on philosophy—James Miller’s Examined Lives: From Socrates to Nietzsche and Ronald Dowrkin’s Justice for Hedgehogsin the American Scholar.

Lizzie Skurnick reviews Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder at the Barnes & Noble Review.

Adam Kirsch reviews Folktales of the Jews, Volume 3: Tales From Arab Lands at Tablet.

Rayyan Al-Shawaf reviews Kate Christensen’s new novel, The Astral, in the New York Press.

Your reviews and recommendations help seed these roundups: If you’re an NBCC member with a review you’d like considered for inclusion, please email You can also get our attention by using the Twitter hashtag #nbcc, posting on the wall of our Facebook page, or joining our members-only LinkedIn group.