Critical Notes

Beyond Franzen and Ferrante: Valerie Martin, Per Petterson and Spider Web

By Elizabeth Taylor

NBCC member Clea Simon reviews Sea Lovers, Valerie Martin’s new collection of short stories for the Boston Globe.

NBCC member Carol Iaciofano reviews Martin’s collection for WBUR's arts and culture site, The ARTery.

NBCC Board member and 2013 Balakian winner Katherine A. Powers reviews Amy Stewart's Girl Waits with Gun in the New York Times.

NBCC member Lori Feathers reviews Bonita Avenue by Dutch author Peter Buwalda World Literature Today.

NBCC member Karl Wolff reviews Zippy Stories by Bill Griffith for his ongoing essay series for the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography:

With “#Ferrantefever, Lisbeth Salander, Franzen” NBCC Board member and VP/Online Jane Ciabattari contributes her “Five books making news this week” to Lit Hub. She also chooses 10 books, including poetry collections by NBCC award winner Juan Felipe Herrera and Joy Harjo, in her September Books to Read column for BBC Culture.

NBCC member John Domini reviews Elena Ferrante’s The Story of the Lost Child in the Washington Post.

NBCC member Jim Carmin reviews Ellen Urbani’s Landfall for the Oregonian.

In the latest issue of The Practicing Writer newsletter, NBCC member Erika Dreifus interviews Tracy Crow about her new book, On Point: A Guide to Writing the Military Story. And on her My Machberet blog, Erika  shares highlights from Einat Wilf's Winning the War of Words: Essays on Israel and Zionism

NBCC member Joe Peschel reviews Per Petterson's I Refuse for the The Daily Beast.

Clea Simon reviews Robert Goolrick’s The Fall of Princes for the Boston Globe. 

NBCC member Angie Jabine reviews Ellen Urbani’s Landfall for the Oregon ArtsWatch.

NBCC member Jim Ruland reviews Vu Tran's Dragonfish for The Life Sentence.  

NBCC member Diane Scharper reviews Robert Blair Kaiser’s Inside the Jesuits: How Pope Francis is Changing the World and the Church for the National Catholic Reporter.

NBCC member Fred Volkmer reviews George Braziller’s memoir Encounters: My Life in Publishing in the Southampton Press &

NBCC member Daniel Dyer reviews Michael Dirda’s Browsings: A Year of Reading, Collecting, and Living With Books in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

NBCC member Jan Alexander has a conversation with Jane Smiley and a review of Unrequited: Women and Romantic Obsession by Lisa A. Phillips in Neworld Review.

In Newsday, NBCC member Marion Winik reviews The Girl in the Spider's Web.

For her “Newly Released” column in the New York Times, NBCC Board member Carmela Ciuraru reviews Alaa Al Aswany’s The Automobile Club of Egypt, Kathleen Alcott’s Infinite Home and Vu Tran’s Dragonfish. 

In the Las Vegas Weekly, NBCC member Chuck Twardy reviews Haruki Murikami’s Wind/Pinball

NBCC member Michael Magras reviews Greg Grandin's Kissinger's Shadow for the Star Tribune and Adam Johnson's Fortune Smiles for BookPage. 

NBCC member Randon Billings Noble Moore reviews Dinty W. Moore’s Dear Mister Essay Writer Guy for The A.V. Club.

NBCC member David Nilsen reviews John Burnside's Black Cat Bone for Fourth and Sycamore. 

For Guernica, NBCC member Grace Bello interviewed the legendary cartoonist Gilbert Hernandez, co-creator of the series Love and Rockets.

NBCC member John Sledge’s new book about the Alabama River is titled Mobile River is published by University of South Carolina Press. 

Finally, what would a Labor Day edition of Critical Notes be, without Purity? Board member Colette Bancroft reviews Franzen's novel in the Tampa Bay Times, NBCC member Rayyan Al-Shawaf reviews it for the Chicago Reader and NBCC member Eileen Weiner reviews the novel for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Last, but not least, a special welcome to new NBCC member Amanda Sarasien whose review of Oreo by Fran Ross appeared in The Literary 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