Critical Notes

The great Margaret Atwood, Vladimir Lenin, and other venerables

By Laurie Hertzel

Associated Press photo.

A glorious spring day. The magnolias are blooming (they smell like bubblegum!), the forsythia is glowing golden and my tulips have not yet been eaten by rabbits. Here are the latest reviews and other good news from the hardworking members of the NBCC:

Former NBCC board member and Tampa Bay Times books editor Colette Bancroft reviews Sarah Gerard’s “Sunshine State” for the Tampa Bay Times, and also interviews Margaret Atwood, novelist, poet, essayist and winner of this year's NBCC Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award.

Board member Kerri Arsenault's essay, “Vacationland,” was published in “Freeman's: Home,” and also at Lithub. Her review of Sara Baume’s novel “A Line Made by Walking” appeared in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. And her interview with Fizcarraldo Editions editor, Jacques Testard, was published on Lithub.

Board member Lori Feathers, a judge for the Best Translated Book Award, writes about why Stefan Hertmans’s “War & Turpentine” should take the prize.

Board member and Minneapolis Star Tribune senior editor for books Laurie Hertzel profiles debut author Lesley Nneka Arimah for the Strib, and also reviews Drew Philp's book “A $500 House in Detroit.

Frank Freeman reviews Eleanor Brackbill’s “The Queen of Heartbreak Trail” in the Portland Press Herald.

Julia M. Klein reviews Anders Rydell's “The Book Thieves” and Norman Ohler's “Blitzed,”  as well as Caroline Kitchener's “Post Grad,” all for the Chicago Tribune. She also reviewed Bernhard Schlink's “The Woman on the Stairs” for the Barnes & Noble Review. 

David Nilsen reviewed “Guera” by Rebecca Gaydos for The Collagist.

Joseph Peschel reviewed Michel Stone's “Border Child” in the Raleigh News & Observer.

Michael Magras reviewed “Lenin on the Train” by Catherine Merridale for the Minneapolis Star Tribune

Rayyan Al-Shawaf reviewed “American War,” by Omar El Akkad, in the Boston Globe, and “The Idiot,” by Elif Batuman, in the Toronto Star.

David Walton reviewed Alex Ryrie's “Protestants,” for the Dallas Morning News.

Other publications, awards, honors and good stuff:

SAVE THE DATES: PEN World Voices (with a 10% discount for NBCC members), NBCC membership meeting and “Beyond the Buzz” panel moderated by NBBC board member Michele Filgate, with panelists New York Times's Nicoly Lamy and Julian Lucas, plus Balakian winner Carlos Lozada of the Washington Post NBCC VP/Tech Bethanne Patrick.

Former NBCC President John Freeman published his third issue of Freeman’s biannual (this one is “Freeman's: Home”) and he and his contributors will be making appearances from Chicago to Stockholm. The full tour schedule is HERE. He will be appearing with Freeman's contributor and NBCC board member Kerri Arsenault in Berlin on April 22nd, Brooklyn on May 2nd, Stockholm on June 5th and Malmo on June 7th.

Your reviews seed this roundup. Please send items, ncluding news about your new publications and recent honors, to Make sure to send links that do not require a subscription or username and password. Please include your name, the publication, a description of your article, and a URL. We love URLs. We do not love hyperlinks.

Laurie Hertzel is the senior editor for books for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the author of "News to Me," and a member of the NBCC board.