Critical Notes

Ian MacKenzie, William Trevor, Sarah Winman & Flash Fiction

By Taylor Anhalt

NBCC Vice President/Online Jane Ciabattari’s flash fiction, #BrooklynAftertheFall, was published in the flash anthology commissioned for Independent Bookstore Day on April 28, and in Lit Hub. Her new weekly Lit Hub column continues, with an exchange with Rumaan Alam on books mostly about motherhood (including novels by NBCC honored fiction writers Louise Erdrich and Jayne Anne Phillips).

For Literary Hub, Tobias Carroll wrote about the overlap of critical acclaim of horror stories with our current political moment. He reviewed Lucas Mann’s ‘Captive Audience’ for the Barnes & Noble Review, interviewed Stacy Horn about her new book ‘Damnation Island’ for Curbed, and Nicola Griffith about her novel ‘So Lucky’ for Hazlitt. He also posted the latest installment of his Watchlist column at Words Without Borders.

NBCC Emerging Critics’ Fellow Zack Graham interviewed debut novelist Rachel Lyon for the English Kills Review.

Wayne Catan reviewed Paula McLain’s ‘Love and Ruin’ for the Idaho Statesman.

Robert Allen Papinchak reviewed William Trevor’s ‘Last Stories’ for the Los Angeles Review.

Claude Peck reviewed ‘Tin Man’ by Sarah Winman in the Star Tribune.

Ron Slate reviewed Rebecca Kauffman’s novel ‘The Gunners’ (Counterpoint) for On the Seawall.

Heller McAlpin reviewed Caryl Phillip’s latest novel 'Empire at Sunset ‘for NPR.

Karl Wolff reviewed 'Harry Benson: Persons of Interest' by Harry Benson for the New York Journal of Books.

Former board member Karen R. Long reviewed Michael Pollan’s ‘How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence’ for Newsday.

Chris Barsanti wrote about Norman Mailer for The Millions. He also reviewed ‘Russian Roulette’ by Michael Isikoff and David Corn for PopMatters.

Sarah McCraw Crow reviewed Simon Winchester’s ‘The Perfectionists’, Leonard Mlodinow’s ‘Elastic’, and Daniel Stone’s ‘The Food Explorer’ for BookPage.

K.L. Romo reviewed Jennifer Haupt’s heartrending novel ‘In the Shadows of 10,000 Hills’ for Washington Independent Review of Books.

Andrew Ervin reviewed Ian MacKenzie’s novel ‘Feast Days’ for the New York Times.

Allen Adams reviewed ‘Like Brothers’ by Mark & Jay Duplass and Rachel Slade’s ‘Into the Raging Sea’ for The Main Edge.

Kevin O’Kelly reviewed Ryan McIlvain’s latest novel, ‘The Radicals’, for The Rumpus.

Dawn Raffel rounded up Memorial Day books for

Martha Anne Toll reviewed Alexander Chee’s ‘How to Write an Autobiographical Novel’ for NPR. She also reviewed Noémi Lefebvre’s ‘Blue Self-Portrait', Pasal Mercier’s “lea’, and Mathias Énard’s ‘Compass’ for The Millions.

Michael Magras reviewed ‘War on Peace’ by Ronan Farrow for the Houston Chronicle.

Jenny Bhatt interviewed Dr. Vera Tobin for PopMatters. They discussed her latest non-fiction book, ‘Elements of Surprise’, and how cognition, linguistics, and narrative techniques help with the “well-made surprise” in fiction – books and more. They also talked about how the same elements also feature in fake news, how “dumb-smart” stories work, and more.

Hamilton Cain reviewed Carys Davies’ ‘West’ in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, and Michael Ondaatje’s ‘Warlight’ for the June issue of O, the Oprah Magazine.

Rayyan Al-Shawaf also reviewed Michael Ondaatje’s ‘Warlight’ for the San Antonio Express-News, and David Adams Richard’s ‘Mary Cyr’ for the Toronto Star.

Sarah Johnson interviewed Susan Meissner and Mindy Tarquini about their novels set during the 1918 influenza pandemic for the Historical Novels Review.

Diane Scharper reviewed three books for the (February 9-22, 2018) issue of the National Catholic Reporter: ‘Barking to the Choir’ by Gregory Boyle S.J.; ‘St. Clare of Assisi’ by Bret Thomas; and ‘When the Past Begins’ by Amy Tan.

Nicholas Birns wrote the introduction to the new translation of Miklós Szentkuthy’s ‘Black Renaissance’.

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.