Critical Notes

Truths, Proust and other good things

By Laurie Hertzel

Laure de Sade, Comtesse Adhéaume de Chevigné

Reviews, interviews and profiles by our members

This week's Craft of Criticism series interview is with NBCC biography award winner Ruth Franklin.

This week's NBCC Reads/Favorite Work in Translation is Rebecca Foster on Carsten Jensen's “We, the Drowned.”

In this week's Lit Hub column, VP/Online Jane Ciabattari talks with NBCC fiction award winner Ben Fountain about five books that explore our democracy, including Toni Morrison's “Beloved” and Mark Danner's “The Massacre at El Mozote.”

NBCC board member Mary Ann Gwinn interviewed Porter Fox about his nonfiction book, “Northland: A 4,000-Mile Journey Along America’s Forgotten Border,” for the Seattle Times.

NBCC board member Laurie Hertzel profiled author Leif Enger for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Helen Mitsios reviewed “Proust's Duchess,” by Caroline Weber, for France-Amerique Magazine. 

Jenny Yacovissi reviewed Kent Wascom’s “The New Inheritors” for the Washington Independent Review of Books

Hamilton Cain wrote about Jill Lepore's “These Truths” for the New York Journal of Books.

Anita Felicelli reviewed Sarah Smarsh's “Heartland” and Khaled Hosseini's “Sea Prayer,” both for the San Francisco Chronicle.

Rayyan Al-Shawaf's review of “Presidio” by Randy Kennedy was published in the San Antonio Express-News.

Jim Ruland reviews Leonard Gardner's desperate tale of pugilism “Fat City” for his column The Floating Library in San Diego CityBeat. 

Désirée Zamorano reviewed Sarah Weinman's “The Real Lolita” for the LA Review of Books.

Elizabeth Lund reviewed “Perennial” by Kelly Forsythe, “The Carrying” by Ada Limón, and “If You Have to Go” by Katie Ford for The Washington Post.

Kathleen Rooney reviewed Jessica Hopper's “Night Moves” for the Chicago Tribune.

Rochelle Spencer wrote about two story collections–Lesley Nneka Arimah's “What it Means When a Man Falls From the Sky,” and “Meet Behind Mars” by Renee Simms–for the Los Angeles Review.

Yvonne Garrett reviewed Chibundu Onuzo's “Welcome to Lagos” and Tommy Orange's “There There” for the Brooklyn Rail.

Joshua Claybourn reviewed David Blight's biography of Frederick Douglass, “Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom,” for the Compulsive Reader.

Pam Munter's review of Jamie Bernstein's memoir, “Famous Father Girl,” has been published by Fourth and Sycamore.

Rachael Nevins recently reviewed “New Micro: Exceptionally Short Fiction,” edited by James Thomas and Robert Scotellaro, for Necessary Fiction.

Julia M. Klein reviews Phyllis Chesler's “A Politically Incorrect Feminist” for the Forward and talks to Alex Wagner about her memoir “Futureface” for the Brown Alumni Magazine.

Tobias Carroll reviewed Gary Shteyngart's novel, “Lake Success,” for the New Republic; reviewed David Pearce's “Patient X” at; and wrote his latest Watchlist column for Words Without Borders.


And in other news

Abby Frucht's short story, “Peeping Tom,” has been published in Solstice Literary Magazine.

“Birnam Wood / El Bosque de Birnam,” Hélène Cardona's translation of her father José Manuel Cardona’s anthology, has been published by Salmon Poetry.

Tim Riley was profiled in  “Secrets of the Book Critics” for LitHub.

Xujun Eberlein's personal essay, “The Cremation,” was published in Brevity.

Anis Shivani wrote about lessons for writers from cats in Agni.


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 the author of a memoir, “News to Me: Adventures of an Accidental Journalist,” published by the University of Minnesota Press in 2010 and winner of a Minnesota Book Award. Her work has appeared in Tri-Quarterly, the Chicago Tribune, Minnesota Monthly magazine, and many other publications in the United States, Finland, and Australia. She has an MFA from Queens University in Charlotte, N.C. Hertzel teaches at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis.