Critical Notes

#NBCCLeonard Award, Links from Emerging Critics, & More

By Jane Ciabattari

NBCC member reviews & interviews

Time to volunteer for the John Leonard Award committee and join the conversation on Twitter (#NBCCLeonard) and Facebook, where you can check out the list of candidates generated by the board here

NBCC VP/Tech David Varno reviewed Deni Ellis Béchard's White for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

NBCC board member Lori Feathers' “Best of the B-Sides” series at Words Without Borders features novels that explore the legacy of a secret.

NBCC VP/Online Jane Ciabattari's weekly Lit Hub column features a Q and A with NBCC board member Marion Winik re: her Baltimore Book of the Dead and another with with  former NBCC board member Jabari Asim , author of  We Can’t Breathe: On Black Lives, White Lies, and the Art of Survival, which covers five classic American essay collections, including NBCC award-winning autobiography Harlem Is Nowhere by Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts.

Hamilton Cain reviews the new biography of Frederick Douglass for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

NBCC Emerging Critic Justin Howard Rosier was featured in Lit Hub's Secrets of the Book Critics.

Ilana Masad has written about how recent literature tackles women's trauma without exploiting it for Buzzfeed. She reviewed Barbara Kingsolver's new novel, Shelter, for NPR and for the Los Angeles Review of Books, Anita Felicelli's debut short story collection, Love Songs for a Lost Continent.

Kathleen Rooney interviewed Jacob Saenz about his debut poetry collection Throwing the Crown for the Poetry Foundation.

Joan Gelfand reviewed Diane Frank's Canon for Bears and Ponderosa Pines in Iowa Source.

Randy Cepuch reviewed Dan Barry's This Land for Washington Independent Review of Books.

For Foreward Reviews, NBCC Emerging Critic Letitia Montgomery-Rodgers reviewed Michelle Barker’s The House of One Thousand Eyes.She also reviewed Pooja Puri's The Jungle, Mary Watson's The Wren Hunt, Natalie Sypolt's The Sound of Holding Your Breath, Saray Balki's Better Times, and Ruvanee Pietersz Vilhauer's The Water Diviner and Other Stories.

NBCC Emerging Critic Tanner Howard reviewed Daniel Kay Hertz's The Battle of Lincoln Park for the Cleveland Review of Books.

Christopher J. Adamson reviewed recent poetry in West Branch, looking at Confessional Sci-Fi: A Primer by Kirsten Kaschock, Lake Michigan by Daniel Borzutzky, and Inquisition by Kazim Ali.

Tobias Carroll wrote about Blumhouse Productions' work in books for Polygon, reviewed Dale Bailey's new novel for, and has a new Watchlist column up at Words Without Borders.

Zack Graham's review of Spike Lee's new film BlacKkKlansman was published by Jewish Currents. Graham also wrote this week's NBCC Reads post, on his favorite work in translation, Machado de Assiss's Epitaph of a Small Winner.

Katherine Hill reviewed the sixth and final volume of Karl Ove Knausgaard's My Struggle for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Pam Munter reviewed Donald Hall's A Carnival of Losses in Fourth and Sycamore.

Susan Keselenko Coll reviewed Heather Taylor Johnson's Jean Harley Was Here for the New York Times Book Review.

Martha Anne Toll reviewed Kiese Laymon's Heavy for NPR Books. 

Brendan Driscoll reviewed Najla Jraissaty Khoury’s Pearls on a Branch: Oral Tales for The Millions.

Jeff Baker interviewed Amy Stewart for The Oregonian and reviewed Night Train by Thom Jones for the Seattle Times.

In his latest piece for the Washington Post, Michael Lindgren attempts to make a painting under the dictates of 1980s TV guru Bob Ross.

Robert Allen Papinchak reviewed Haruki Murakami's Killing Commendatore for World Literature Today.

Other news

Cynthia Haven and her book Evolution of Desire were mentioned on the floor of the Académie Française by incoming academician Michel Zink. “This may be as close as I get to the Académie in this lifetime,” she writes.The books is also featured in Tablet and the TLS.

V. Joshua Adams has published a new chapbook of poems, Cold Affections

RIP NBCC poetry award finalist Tony Hoagland.

NBCC fiction award winner Ben Fountain has a new nonfiction book, Beautiful Country Burn again, reviewed here in the Wasington Post.


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.