Critical Notes

Post-BEA Roundup: John Leonard Award, VIDA and Ethics Panels, Adichie, Dante & More

By Jane Ciabattari

Last week's NBCC events generated buzz & kudos, beginning with the NBCC's announcement of the new John Leonard award for a first book, reported first by Balakian winner Ron Charles on the Washington Post blog and also by The Associated Press, in the New York Daily News,Poets and Writers, NPR, and The New Yorker blog. Andrew Leonard tweeted, “Re: the NBCC award. My dad really loved championing new voices. This was an inspired decision.”

The online conversation swirled around the NBCC's May 29 panel on the VIDA count at the Center for Fiction. Among those making points: Balakian winner Scott Mclemee's piece on Inside Higher Ed, Balakian winner Laurie Stone on Critical Mass, and Woolf scholar Anne Fernald.

The NBCC panel on new literary magazines moderated by NBCC board member Mark Athitakis led to Twitter talk about negative reviews.

Do Book Reviewers Need a Code of Ethics? The NBCC's BEA panel (video here) was covered by Time magazine and the Christian Science Monitor.

“Mendelsohn's scholarship is formidable.” Rave review of NBCC autobiography winner Daniel Mendelsohn's new Cavafy translation.

The German translation of Teju Cole's “Open City,” a finalist for the NBCC fiction award two years ago, has just won the prestigious Internationale Literaturpreis – Haus der Kulturen der Welt 2013. Cole will receive 25,000 euros and his German translator, Christine Richter-Nilsson, 10,000 euros.

NBCC nonfiction winner Andrew Solomon profiles medical philanthropist Deeda Blair.

NBCC board member Carolyn Kellogg calls NBCC fiction finalist Chimamanda Adichie's “Americanah” “part love story, part social critique, and one of the best you'll read this year.”  NBCC board member Tom Beer writes, ” “Americanah” not only makes Nigeria and Nigerians viscerally real to U.S. readers; she shows us ourselves through new eyes.”

Former NBCC board member Steve Weinberg on Peter Carlson's Civil War epic, “Junius and Albert's Adventures in the Confederacy,” “a book about war and suffering with death around every bend.”

NBCC board member Jane Ciabattari calls Janet Frame's voice in her new story collection “poetic, acerbic, piercing.”

Julia M. Klein reviews Daniel Bergner's “What Do Women Want?” and Katherine Angel's “Unmastered” for the Boston Globe.

Balakian winner Joan Acocella discusses Dante in translation in The New Yorker:” You’d think that a fourteenth-century allegorical poem on sin and redemption, written in a medieval Italian vernacular and in accord with the Scholastic theology of that period, would have been turned over, long ago, to the scholars in the back carrels. But no.”