Critical Notes

Roundup: Oprah, Murakami, Smiley, Palahniuk, and the first annual Kirkus Prize winners

By Eric Liebetrau

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The 2014 Kirkus Prize winners were announced on Thursday. This was the inaugural year of the prize, which awards $50,000 to each winning writer.

Elaine F. Tankard reviews Haruki Murakami's latest novel.

Longtime NBCC board member Rigoberto Gonzalez has been awarded a $50,000 United States Artists fellowship in literature. He was honored earlier this month at an Academy of American Poets ceremony for the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize for his book “Unpeopled Eden.” And in the summer “Unpeopled Eden” was honored with a Lambda Literary Award. He also explores “what it means to be a gay Chicano immigrant in the United States.” Rigo has served the NBCC as treasurer, bringing that role into the digital age, and is currently Vice President/Awards. He writes the “Small Press Spotlight” series for Critical Mass. His latest interview is with Abayomi Animashaun.

Carl Rollyson reviews Daniel Schreiber's Susan Sontag biography. He also reviews Adam Begley's Updike bio.

Meredith Maran reviews Margo Howard's “Eat, Drink, and Remarry.” She also reviews Oprah Winfrey's new collection, in addition to Jane Smiley's “Some Luck.”

Dan Cryer also reviews the Smiley novel.

Adam Morris reviews Naomi Klein's new book, “This Changes Everything.”

Erika Dreifus has a review essay, “Unmothers: Women Writing About Life Without Children,” in the Missouri Review's Fall 2014 issue. The piece focuses on books by Melanie Notkin, Jen Kirkman, and Gail Caldwell as well as an anthology edited by Henriette Mantel.

Heller McAlpin reviews Azar Nafisi's “Republic of Imagination.”

Julia M. Klein reviews Barbara Leaming's “Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis” for the Boston Globe.

Angie Jabine reviews Chuck Palahniuk's “Beautiful You.”

“Elegy for Dracula,” from Randon Billings Noble.

Brad Tyer reviews the new biography of the Flatlanders.

NBCC board member Steven Kellman reviews Ezra Greenspan's “William Wells Brown.”

Karl Wolff reviews “Predator: The Secret Origins of the Drone Revolution,” by Richard Whittle for the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography.

Matthew Jakubowski interviews David Winters for the second installment of an ongoing series focused on the question, “What is a critic's role?”