Critical Notes

Susan Faludi, T.C. Boyle, Zadie Smith and Candice Millard (and more)

By Laurie Hertzel

Zadie Smith, photo by Dominique Nabokov


It's been a week, hasn't it? Books keep us going. Here are your reviews for the last week. And some good news: voting for the #NBCCLeonard award for best first book begins today. Watch for SurveyMonkey ballot in your in-box. Here are some of the candidates, in our #NBCCLeonard blog series. Shout out others to @bookcritics on Twitter or on our Facebook page.

NBCC vp/online Jane Ciabattari's Lit Hub column features Zadie, Elena, and Eleanor, plus NBCC award winner David Hajdu's latest and shoutouts to Kirkus Prize winners & Radhika Jones:

NBCC Board member and past Balakian winner Katherine A. Powers reviewed John Pipkin's “The Blind Astronomer's Daughter” for the New York Times, Candice Millard's “Hero of the Empire” for Barnes &, and Eileen Battersby's “Teethmarks on My Tongue” for the Irish Times.

For the Minneapolis Star Tribune, NBCC board member Laurie Hertzel wrote about how the modernization of libraries has meant the loss of a little bit of history. She also reviewed “Schoolhouse,” by Marc Nieson, and “Footnotes from the World's Greatest Bookstores,” by Bob Eckstein.

Michael Magras reviewed “The Terranauts,” by T.C. Boyle for the Philadelphia Inquirer, “Hag-Seed” by Margaret Atwood for Shelf Awareness, and “Thus Bad Begins” by Javier Marías for BookPage.

Fred Volkmer reviewed “The Violet Hour” by Katie Roiphe and “Clamour of Crows,” by Ray Merritt, both for the Southampton Press and

For The Practicing Writer newsletter, Erika Dreifus recently interviewed Alexandra Zapruder, author of “Twenty-Six Seconds: A Personal History of the Zapruder Film.”

Brendan Driscoll reviews Maja Haderlap's “Angel of Oblivion” for The Millions, writing that the book “deserves praise for breaking the silence to bring the stories of Slovenian-speaking Austrians to a much broader audience”.

For the Washington Independent Review of Books, Jenny Yacovissi has reviewed “The Most Famous Writer Who Ever Lived,” by Tom Shroder, and “Mary Astor's Purple Diary,” by Edward Sorel.

Joan Silverman interviewed Susan Faludi for the Portland Press-Herald.

Rochelle Spencer interviewed MK Chavez for Cosmonauts Avenue and Janice Lowe for the Chicago Review of Books.

Carl Rollyson reviewed “Anything that Burns You,” by Terese Svoboda for The New Criterion.

David Cooper reviewed “Judas,” by Amos Oz, in New York Journal of Books.

Lanie Tankard  reviewed “Losing Helen,” by Carol Becker, for Woven Tale Press

Laverne Frith  reviewed “The Last Shift” by Philip Levine, for the New York Journal of Books.

Frank Freeman published a blog entitled “The Bully” in the Dublin Review of Books.   

Diane Scharper's review of “The High Places,” short stories by Fiona McFarlane, was published in America magazine.

Karen R. Long reviewed “Swing Time,” by Zadie Smith, for the Los Angeles Times.

Amy Brady reviewed “Nicotine” by Nell Zink for the Dallas Morning News.

Your reviews seed this roundup; please send items, including new about your new publications and recent honors, to Make sure to send links that do not require a subscription or username and password. Please send dedicated URLs rather than hotlinks, and include the title and author of the book, as well as the name of the publication.

Laurie Hertzel is the senior editor for books at the Minneapolis Star Tribune and a member of the NBCC board.