Critical Notes

Lawrence Wright, Michelle Dean, and Poetry by Members

By Taylor Anhalt


Eileen Weiner reviewed Richard Powers’ ‘The Overstory’ for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Heller McAlpin reviewed Meg Wolitzer’s ‘The Female Persuasion’ for the Barnes and Noble Review and Michelle Dean’s ‘Sharp’ for NPR.

NBCC board member Mary Ann Gwinn interviewed the novelist Charles Frazier about his new book ‘Varina’, which is based on the life of Jefferson Davis’ wife, for the Seattle Times. She also reviewed Barbara Ehrenreich’s ‘Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Our Illusion of Control’ for Newsday.

Anita Felicelli reviewed Hanne Ørstavik's novella ‘Love’ for the Los Angeles Review of Books.

NBCC board member Tom Beer featured three new books, which include ‘Circe’ by Madeline Miller, ‘The Fox Hunt: A Refugee’s Memoir of Coming to America’ by Mohammed Al Samawi, and ‘Assume the Worst: The Graduation Speech You’ll Never Hear’ by Carl Hiaasen, for Newsday. On the same site, he announced that an unpublished story of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth saga will be published in August.

Katherine Coldron reviewed Carl Frode Tiller’s ‘Encircling 2’ for the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Lisa Russ Spaar reviewed Gabriel Fried’s ‘The Children are reading’ and Tomas Q. Morin’s ‘Patient Zero’ for her Second Acts column in the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Jacob Appel reviewed Barbara Ehrenreich’s ‘Natural Causes’ for the New York Journal of Books.

John Domini, in the Sewanee Review, calls the new Richard Powers novel a “magnificent leviathan” in his review of ‘The Overstory’.

Yvonne Garrett reviewed ‘The Largesse of the Sea Maiden’ by Denis Johnson for The Brooklyn Rail.

Ron Slate reviewed Woody Haut’s novel ‘Days of Smoke’ for the Los Angeles Review of Books and Henri Cole’s ‘Orphic Paris’ for On the Seawall.

Matthew Jakubowski reviewed Bae Suah’s novel ‘Recitation’, translated by Deborah Smith, for Full Stop.

Celia Bland reviewed Jeff Friedman’s book of short fiction ‘Floating Tales’ in the current print issue of Rain Taxi.

Former board member and Balakian recipient Steven G. Kellman reviewed Lawrence Wright’s ‘God Save Texas’ for The Texas Observer.

Lanie Tankard reviewed Kate Braverman’s latest collection of short stories, ‘A Good Day for Seppuku’ from City Lights Publishers, in the April issue of Woven Tale Press.

Michelle Newby Lancaster reviewed Lawrence Wright’s ‘God Save Texas: A Journey into the Soul of the Lone Star State’ for Lone Star Literary Life.

Rayyan Al-Shawaf reviewed ‘The Only Story’ by Julian Barnes for the San Antonio Express-News.

Heller McAlpin reviewed Tom Rachman’s ‘The Italian Teacher’ for the Barnes and Noble Review.

Michael Magras reviewed Julian Barnes’ ‘The Only Story’ for the Houston Chronicle.

Colette Bancroft reviewed Lawrence Wright’s ‘God Save Texas’ for Tampa Bay Times.

Maureen Corrigan reviewed Meg Wolitzer’s ‘Female Persuasion’ for NPR and Sara Shepard’s ‘The Elizas’ for The Washington Post.

Ellen Wayland-Smith reviewed Michelle Dean’s ‘Sharp: The Women Who Made an Art of Having an Opinion’ for The Millions.

Board member Lori Feathers’ new ‘Best of the B-Sides’ feature debuts at Words Without Borders, pairing a new work of translated fiction with a number of older translated titles with a similar theme. Lori also reviewed Meg Wolitzer’s ‘The Female Persuasion’ for The Los Angeles Review of Books.

Jeffrey Ann Goudie reviewed Michelle Dean’s ‘Sharp: The Women Who Made an Art of Having an Opinion’ for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Rochelle Spencer reviewed Kevin Young’s  'Bunk' in the spring 2018 edition of Mosaic Literary magazine.

NBCC VP Membership Anjali Enjeti wrote about Bharati Mukherjee’s ‘Jasmine’ and representation in book covers for The Paris Review.

Jim Ruland reviewed Elizabeth Harris’ translation of Antonia Tabucchi’s ‘For Isabel: A Mandala’ for San Diego CityBeat.


Member News

Check out the video of the NBCC/Brooklyn Public Library panel, Criticism and Social Justice, with NBCC biography winner Ruth Franklin, NBCC VP/Awards Yahdon Israel, NBCC Balakian winner Alexandra Schwartz, Rafia Zakaria and Jess Row, moderated by NBCC board member Michele Filgate.

Join Archipelago Books and the National Book Critics Circle at Community Bookstore for a conversation with Norwegian author Hanne Ørstavik and Kerri Arsenault of the National Book Critics Circle about Ørstavik's novel ‘Love’ on May 3, 2018 at 7pm. Kerri reviewed the book for in February while at a writer’s residency at Oslo, Norway’s Litteraturhuset.

NBCC board member Kerri Arsenault will be in conversation with Richard Russo and John Freeman talking about what it feels like to live in a divided nation. They will be at Print: A Bookstore in Portland, Maine on May 14, 2018 at 7pm 

Sebastian Stockman wrote an essay ‘Who Am I to Judge’ about serving as a judge for this year’s John Leonard Award for the LARB blog.

Matthew Jakubowski recently launched a new prose reading series based at the Dock Street Cannery in West Philadelphia.

Celia Bland’s third collection of poetry, ‘Cherokee Road Kill’, was published in March 2018 by Dr. Cicero Books.

Rochelle Spencer has a book coming out in 2018: ‘AfroSurrealism: The African Diaspora’s Surrealist Fiction’ (Routledge).


Past Award Winners News

NBCC Fiction Award winner Joan Silber won the PEN/Faulkner award in fiction for her book ‘Improvement’, which is praised “for combining multiple narratives and revealing the lives of unassuming, everyday people.”

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.