Critical Notes

Roundup: Mean Reviews, Lorin Stein, Esi Edugyan, Lionel Shriver, and More

By Mark Athitakis

Are book critics too mean? Should authors at the receiving end of a negative review stop biting their tongues and respond? Arthur Krystal considers the matter in the Chronicle of Higher Education, and Balakian winner Ron Charles responds on the Washington Post’s Style blog, writing that “I’m more alarmed by the number of dull [reviews] than the number of unkind ones.”

Scott Esposito interviews Paris Review editor Lorin Stein in the debut episode of That Other Word, a podcast produced in collaboration between the Center for Writers and Translators and the Center for the Art of Translation.

Robert Birnbaum interviews  cartoonist Ben Katchor for the Morning News and John Summers, editor of the revived Baffler, at Identity Theory.

Lisa Guidarini interviews novelist Frank Delaney for Chicago TribLocal.

Walton Muyumba reviews Esi Edugyan’s novel Half-Blood Blues for the Dallas Morning News.

Steven G. Kellman reviews Franz Werfel’s newly translated 1933 novel, The Forty Days of Musa Dagh, for the Barnes & Noble Review.

Carolyn Kellogg reviews Lionel Shriver’s novel The New Republic for the Los Angeles Times.

Rayyan Al-Shawaf reviews John R. Bradley's After the Arab Spring: How Islamists Hijacked the Middle East Revolts for the Abu Dhabi National.

Michael O’Donnell reviews Richard Aldous’ Reagan and Thatcher: The Difficult Relationship, for the Barnes & Noble Review.

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.