Critical Notes

Meg Wolitzer, Leslie Jamison, and Patricia Smith—and good news from NBCC members

By Laurie Hertzel

Meg Wolitzer

Reviews and profiles from our membership

NBCC board member and VP Membership Anjali Enjeti wrote about the need to diversity and decolonize school reading lists for Al Jazeera. 

NBCC board member and autobiography chairman Laurie Hertzel wrote about tracking down beloved old books in her weekly Bookmark column for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

NBCC board member and VP Online Jane Ciabattari 's Lit Hub column this week includes NBCC fiction finalist Lorrie Moore's new essay collection. And she includes Meg Wolitzer's “The Female Persuasion,” “Inseparable,” the new biography by NBCC biography finalist Yunte Huang, and Balakian winner Michelle Dean's “Sharp” in her BBC Culture column.

NBCC's just departed board member Mark Rotella writes up this year's AWP in Tampa, with a shout-out to the NBCC reading by Jeffrey Eugenides, Lorrie Moore and Dana Spiotta, moderated by NBCC president Kate Tuttle.

Former board member Colette Bancroft interviewed poet Patricia Smith (whose poems “smolder with the fire this time”) for the Tampa Bay Times, where she is Book Editor.

Priscilla Gilman reviewed Leslie Jamison's “The Recovering” for the Boston Globe:

Karl Wolff reviews “Fools, Frauds and Firebrands: Thinkers of the New Left,” by Roger Scruton, for the New York Journal of Books.

Joan Frank reviews Yang Huang, Roberta Ausubel, Christine Schutt, and Thomas McGuane for the San Francisco Chronicle

Robert Allen Papinchak has reviewed Allan Hollinghurst's “The Sparsholt Affair” for the National Book Review.

Ron Slate reviewed Jane Delury’s first novel, “The Balcony,” for On The Seawall.

Laura Spence-Ash reviewed Meg Wolitzer's “The Female Persuasion” for the Ploughshares blog.

Chelsea Leu reviewed “Anatomy of a Miracle” by Jonathan Miles in the LA Review of Books and “Laura & Emma” by Kate Greathead, for the Rumpus.

Julia M. Klein reviews Andrew Lloyd Webber's “Unmasked” for the Barnes & Noble Review, and Omer Bartov's “Anatomy of a Genocide” for the Forward.

Chuck Greaves reviewed Jonathan Evison's 'Lawn Boy' for the Four Corners Free Press and 'Louis L'Amour's Lost Treasures, Vol. 1' with Beau L'Amour, for the Santa Fe New Mexican.

Alison Buckholtz reviewd Tara Westover's memoir, “Educated,” for the Florida Times-Union. 

David Cooper reviewed “Late Beauty: Selected Poems of Tuvia Ruebner,” translated from the Hebrew by Lisa Katz and Shahar Bram, in New York Journal of Books

Frank Freeman reviewed “Kierkegaard’s Muse: The Mystery of Regine Olsen,” by Joakim Garff for Commonweal.

Nathan Deuel reviewed “Tomb Song” by Julián Herbert for the LA Times.

Michelle Newby Lancaster reviewed William Middleton's “Double Vision: The Unerring Eye of Art World Avatars Dominique and John De Menil,” for Lone Star Literary Life.

Tara Cheesman reviewed “The Wife” by Alafair Burke for the Los Angeles Review of Books.

John Domini had praise for the biography “Oriana Fallici: the Journalist, the Agitator, the Legend,” by Cristina De Stefano in the Washington Post.

Video of NBCC poetry finalist Ada Limon, interviewed at AWP18 in Tampa, in the new issue of Bookforum.

Anita Felicelli reviewed Shobha Rao's “Girls Burn Brighter” for the San Francisco Chronicle.


And other spectacular news

Megan Labrise has officially joined the staff of Kirkus Reviews after five years as a freelance feature writer. She is believed to be the first staff writer in the 85-year history of the company.

Claudia Rankine, the NBCC winner for poetry in 2015, will publish a play with Graywolf Press in 2019.

NBCC member Amy Weldon has two books coming out in 2018: “The Hands-On Life: How to Wake Yourself Up and Save The World” (Cascade) and “The Writer's Eye: Observation and Inspiration for Creative Writers” (Bloomsbury).

Chuck Greaves shared with the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers his boyhood memory of meeting Black Panther creator Jack Kirby.

Past  NBCC Board member David Biespiel and Wendy Willis will appear at the Poetry Foundation on April 5, 61 W. Superior Street, Chicago. 7pm. Free Admission.

And don't miss the beautiful John Midgley portraits of this year's NBCC winners, published daily over the past week, along with other awards news,  here on  Critical Mass, along with the citations for the winners.


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.

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