Critical Notes

C.K. Williams, Chinelo Okparanta, Joyce Carol Oates, Ron Rash, and more

By Michele Filgate

C.K. Williams, winner of a National Book Critics Circle prize for Flesh and Blood, as well as a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award for other poetry collections, passed away at the age of 78.

NBCC board member Jane Ciabattari's weekly Literary Hub column focuses on award season, and nominees including NBCC fiction finalist Marlon James, newly shortlisted for the Man Booker.

NBCC board member Joanna Scutts questions the limits of philanthropy in Larissa MacFarquhar’s account of extreme do-gooders, Strangers Drowning. Scutts also reviews Jill Bialosky’s “The Prize,” for the Washington Post and interviews Lauren Groff, author of “Fates and Furies,” for the Guardian US.

NBCC board member David Biespiel writes the first in a new sequence of essays about his “early education as a poet” over at The Rumpus.

NBCC board member Michele Filgate interviewed Eve Bridburg, Executive Director of Grub Street, for a new Literary Hub series on writing centers across the country.

Rigoberto González writes about Juan Felipe Herrera, the Poet Laureate of the United States, for the Los Angeles Review of Books

“But after over thirty years in the collective consciousness, it’s worth looking at how video games have served as a deeper literary influence above and beyond material for plots and settings.” Tobias Carroll explores the connection between literature and video games in his latest essay for Hazlitt.

Anjali Enjeti reviews Chinelo Okparanta’s Under the Udala Trees for The Guardian.

Joan Silverman reviews Kate Christensen’s How to Cook A Moose for the Portland Press Herald.

Jim Carmin reviews Ron Rash’s new novel, Above the Waterfall, for the Star Tribune.

Dan Cryer reviews Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights by Salman Rushdie for Newsday, and The Lost Landscape: A Writer’s Coming of Age by Joyce Carol Oates for the San Francisco Chronicle.

Ellen Akins reviews The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood for the Star Tribune.

Laurie Hertzel reviews This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance! by Jonathan Evison and writes about diversity among black women writers for the Star Tribune.

Marnie Mueller reviews Ellen Urbani’s Landfall for Peace Corps Worldwide.

Michael Magras reviews John Banville’s The Blue Guitar for

Matthew C. Simpson reviews Equal Before the Law: How Iowa Led Americans to Marriage Equality by Tom Witosky and Marc Hansen for the Des Moines Register.

Victoria Zhuang reviews The Things We Don’t Do by Andrés Neuman (translated by Nick Caistor and Lorenza Garcia for The Harvard Crimson.

NBCC board member Colette Bancroft reviews Margo Jefferson’s Negroland for the Tampa Bay Times

Lori Feathers reviews A Woman Loved by Andreï Makine (translated by Geoffrey Strachan) for Words without Borders and The Vienna Melody by Ernst Lothar (translated by Elizabeth Reynolds Hapgood) for The Mookse and the Gripes.  

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