Critical Notes

Zadie Smith Gives “Dance Lessons for Writers”

By David Varno

Walton Muyumba reviewed Zadie Smith's latest collection of essays Feel Free for the Los Angeles Times.

Katherine A. Powers' monthly audiobooks reviews for the Washington Post included No Justice, in which a black man shot by a white police officer tells his story, and more.

Mary Ann Gwinn interviewed Steve Coll about Directorate S: The C.I.A. and American Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan for The Seattle Times

Tayari Jones' An American Marriage was reviewed by NBCC board member Anjali Enjeti for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and by Meredith Maran for the San Francisco Chronicle.

Tom Beer introduced new books by Zadie Smith, Francisco Cantú and Elizabeth Crook for Newsday.

Laurie Hertzel reviewed Sandra Allen's A Kind of Mirraculas Paradise and five gardening books. She also wrote about Little Free Libraries and the treasures within, and–non-book-related–wrote chapter two of a puppy column for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

For Tablet, Erika Dreifus reported on the inaugural winner and honor titles of the Association of Jewish Libraries Jewish Fiction Award.

Emerging critic Taylor Brorby reviewed Charles Mann’s The Wizard and the Prophet in Newsday. 

Heller McAlpin reviewed Lisa Halliday’s Symmetry for The Barnes & Noble Review and Maggie O’Farrell’s I Am, I Am, I Am for NPR.

Michael Magras reviewed A Girl in Exile by Ismail Kadare for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Feel Free by Zadie Smith for the Houston Chronicle.

George de Stefano reviewed October by China Mieville for PopMatters.

Rebecca Kightlinger reviewed V.S. Alexander's The Taster for Historical Novels Review.

Bob Hoover reviewed Denis Johnson's The Largesse of the Sea Maiden for the Dallas Morning News.

David Cooper reviewed Veronic Gerber Bicecci's Empty SetGrace Lichtenstein reviewed Francisco Cantu’s The Line Becomes a River, and Karl Wolff reviewed The Familiar, Volume 4: Hades and Volume 5: Redwood, by Mark Z. Danielewski for the New York Journal of Books.

Mythili Rao reviewed Elizabeth Flock's The Heart is a Shifting Sea for The New York Times.

Maureen Corrigan explored the themes within Rachel Lyon's Self-Portrait With Boy for KSMU Radio.

Paul Wilner talked with Anne Raeff about her new novel, Winter Kept Us Warm.

Sarah Johnson reviewed Mary Lynn Bracht’s White Chrysanthemum for the Historical Novels Review.

Moira Macdonald featured four books with different takes on love, for Valentine’s Day, in the Seattle Times.

Melissa Holbrook Pierson reviewed Thomas Pierce's The Afterlives for Barnes and Noble Review and Ulrich Raulff’s Farewell to the Horse for the Washington Post. 

Robert Birnbaum spotlights “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning” for Our Man In Boston.

Award Winners and Finalists

Autobiography winner Hope Jahren's Lab Girl was chosen for the fifth annual Tosa's All-City Read Program. The book touches on the challenges and joys that women experience working in scientific research.

Yaa Gyasi spoke at the University of Michigan about her book Homegoing, winner of the John Leonard First Book Prize. 

The Mellon Foundation named Elizabeth Alexander, poet and writer, as the foundation's next President.

Nonfiction winner Carol Anderson spoke at OSU about her book, White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of America's Racial Divide

Nonfiction finalist Kapka Kassabova talks about the stories of Bulgaria's haunted borderland from her book, Border: A Journey to the Edge of Europe.

Autobiography winner Ariel Sabar gave a lecture at the University of Colorado on his award-winning book My Father's Paradise: A Son's Search for his Jewish Past in Kurdish Iraq

NBCC members note: Your reviews seed this roundup; please send items, including news about your new publications and recent honors, to With reviews, please include title of book and author, as well as name of publication. Make sure to send links that do not require a subscription or username and password.​ We love dedicated URLs. We do not love hyperlinks.