Critical Notes

Roundup: Zadie Smith, D.T. Max, Martin Amis, and More

By Mark Athitakis

We can’t enter the fall without at least two more essays about the role of the critic and the obligation to be unflinchingly honest: Daniel Mendelsohn’s “A Critic’s Manifesto” at the New Yorker’s Page-Turner blog and David L. Ulin’s “For a Critic, Niceness Is Beside the Point,” at the Los Angeles Times.

Reviews of Zadie Smith’s new novel, NW, are in abundance: Carmela Ciuraru in USA Today; Adam Kirsch in the Wall Street Journal; Ron Charles in the Washington Post; and Kathryn Schulz in New York.

Parul Sehgal reviews Martin Amis’ novel Lionel Asbo: State of England for

Steve Weinberg reviews D.T. Max’s biography of David Foster Wallace, Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story, for the Dallas Morning News; Karen L. Long reviews it for the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Michelle Bailat-Jones reviews John Colman Wood’s novel The Names of Things for Necessary Fiction.

Michael O’Donnell reviews Joseph Crespino’s Strom Thurmond’s America for the Washington Monthly.

Walton Muyumba reviews Victor LaValle’s novel, The Devil in Silver, for the Dallas Morning News.

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.