Critical Notes

Post-Halloween Special, with Francine Prose, T.C. Boyle, Margaret Atwood, and more

By Laurie Hertzel

Your reviews seed this roundup. Please send items, including news about recent publications and honors, to (Current members only.) Please send links that do not require a subscription or a username and password. Please follow this format: Jane Dow reviewed “The Tempest,” by William Shakespeare, for the New York Times. URL here.

Ann Patchett

NBCC VP/Online Jane Ciabattari recommends new novels from Zadie Smith, Michael Chabon, and Amos Oz, a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter's portrait of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, plus a first novel by  Peruvian author Claudia Salazar Jimenez set during the Shining Path insurgency and Philip Levine's plainspoken and eloquent last collection in her November Between the Lines column for BBC Culture. Over on Lit Hub, her column features Ursula Le Guin, Caroline Leavitt, Nell Zink and Melanie Finn

NBCC Board member and past Balakian winner Katherine A. Powers reviewed Ruth Franklin's “Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life” for the Chicago Tribune, and Philip Eade's “Evelyn Waugh: A Life Revisited” for Barnes &

NBCC Board Member Mary Ann Gwinn reviewed “Something in the Blood” by David J. Skal for the Seattle Times.

NBCC board member Laurie Hertzel interviewed Ann Patchett (above, at bookshelf) and reviewed Tana French’s mystery, “The Trespasser,” both for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

The #NBCCLeonard Picks blog series wraps up this week, with voting by members for the best first book in any genre beginning soon.

Michael Berry reviewed T.C. Boyle’s “The Terranauts” for the San Francisco Chronicle, “The Starlit Wood,” edited by Dominik Parisien and Navah Wolfe, for the Portland Press Herald, and profiled Jonathan Lethem for the East Bay Express. 

Lori Feathers reviewed Lidija Dimkovska’s “A Spare Life” in World Literature Today. and picks some early gems in the hunt for the Best Translated Book of 2016 

Ilana Masad reviewed Annie DeWitt’s “White Nights in Split Town City,” Zachary Tyler Vickers 'Congratulations on Your Martyrdom'  and “Intimations” by Alexandra Kleeman, all for Electric Literature.

Priscilla Gilman reviewed “The Fall Guy” by James Lasdun for the Boston Globe.

Elizabeth Rosner reviewed “Mischling,” by Affinity Konar, for the San Francisco Chronicle.

Amy Brady reviewed Richard Kluger’s “Indelible Ink” for the LA Review of Books.

Ellen Akins reviewed “Hag-Seed” by Margaret Atwood for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and “Today Will Be Different” by Maria Semple for Newsday.

Julia M. Klein reviewed Ha Jin's “The Boat Rocker” for the Chicago Tribune.

Sara Elaine Tankard reviewed “One of Us is Sleeping” by Josefine Klougart for World Literature Today.

C.M. Mayo reviewed “In Plain Sight: Felix A. Sommerfeld, Spymaster in Mexico, 1908-1914,” by Heribert von Feilitzsch for Literal Magazine

 Natalie Bakopoulos interviewed novelist Alexander Maksik for Tin House, and reviewed Marcy Dermansky’s “The Red Car” for the San Francisco Chronicle.  

Paul Wilner wrote about Bob Dylan and the Nobel Prize for Zyzzyva.

Diane Scharper's roundup review of “Living With a Dead Language,” “In The Country We Love,” and “Lab Girl” appeared National Catholic Reporter.

David Cooper reviewed “A Greater Music” by Bae Suah for New York Journal of Books. New York Journal of Books.

Heller McAlpin reviewed John Kaag’s “American Philosophy” and Francine Prose’s “Mister Monkey” for NPR.

Matthew Jakubowski reviewed Caren Beilin's experimental novel, “The University of Pennsylvania” for The Kenyon Review Online.

Chris Barsanti reviewed “Strangers in Their Own Land” by Arlie Russell Hochschild for PopMatters.

Nathaniel Popkin reviewed “33 Revolutions”  by Canek Sanchez Guevara for Cleaver Magazine. 

Joe Peschel reviewed Jonathan Lethem's novel  “A Gambler's Anatomy” in the Houston Chronicle.

Over on Literary Hub, Erika Dreifus contests claims that Jewish writing is “over.” And for her own newsletter and website, Erika recently interviewed Rachel Hall, whose newly published collection of linked stories, Heirlooms, was selected by Marge Piercy as winner of the BkMk Press G.S. Sharat Chandra Prize for Short Fiction.

Norman Rusin reviewed “When We Are No More: How Digital Memory Is Shaping Our Future,” by Abby Smith Rumsey for the website Got

Anjali Enjeti reviewed Jennifer Weiner's “Hungry Heart” for Rewire News.

Steven G. Kellman interviewed Antonio Ruiz-Camacho for Translation Review.

Christopher Shade interviewed Peter Ho Davies on the publication of his new novel “The Fortunes” for the Brooklyn Rail.

Karl Wolff reviewed “The Great Ordeal (The Aspect-Emperor, Book Three)” by R. Scott Bakker for the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography. He also reviewed “The German War,” by Nicholas Stargardt and “Black Beauties: Iconic Cars Photographed by Rene Staud” by Rene Staud, both for the New York Journal of Books.

Elizabeth Lund reviewed Mary Oliver's “Upstream: Selected Essays,” for the Washington Post.

Julia M. Klein reviewed Nina Willner's “Forty Autumns” for the Chicago Tribune.

Susan Comninos wrote about “Treyf” by Elissa Altman for Haaretz, and published poems in Rattle and Matter Press.

John Domini wrote about two books by Kim Addonizio for the LA Review of Books, Annie Dewitt’s “White Nights,” for the Philadelphia Inquirer, “Good Little Virgin,” by Amara Lakhous for the Philadelphia Inquirer, and “If Venice Dies” by Salvatore Settis for the Washington Post.

Lanie Tankert wrote about “Body of Water” by Chris Dombrowski for the Woven Tale Press.

Roxana Robinson wrote about the exposure of Elena Ferrante for the Washington Post.

Rayyan Al-Shawaf reviewed “The Return,” by Hisham Matar for Truthdig and “The Boat Rocker,” by Ha Jin, for the Christian Science Monitor.

Michael Magras reviewed Rabih Alameddine’s “The Angel of History” for the Houston Chronicle, and David Szalay’s “All That Man Is,” for Northwest Review of Books.

Mike Lindgren reviewed Homeward Bound,” a biography of Paul Simon by Peter Ames Carlin, and “Crime Plus Music,” an anthology edited by Jim Fusilli, both for the Washington Post.

 Lisa Russ Spaar wrote about books by poets R.T. Smith and Mark Wagenaar in her Seconds Acts column for the Los Angeles Review.

Laurie Hertzel is the books editor of the MInneapolis Star Tribune and a member of the NBCC board.