Critical Notes

#NBCCLeonard Award, Member Reviews, and More

By Mark Athitakis

Reminder: It’s time to volunteer for the John Leonard Award committee! Join the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #NBCCLeonard, and visit our Facebook page to check out the list of candidates generated by the board. Want to write about a favorite? Contact us at about contributing, and learn more about volunteering for the Leonard committee at our website. 

Recent member reviews and essays:

Former board member and Balakian recipient Scott McLemee wrote about Leo R. Chavez's “Anchor Babies and The Challenge of Birthright Citizenship” for Inside Higher Ed.

Asa Drake reviewed Ada Limón's “The Carrying” for the American Poetry Review.

Jenny Bhatt reviewed Akil Kumarasamy’s story collection “Half Gods” for PopMatters.

Maya Payne Smart interviewed Kiese Laymon regarding his memoir “Heavy” for Kirkus Reviews.

Matthew Jakubowski wrote an experimental story-review of Mexican author Cristina Rivera Garza’s novel, “The Iliac Crest,” for Full Stop.

Former board member and Balakian recipient Steven G. Kellman reviewed Zachary Leader's biography of Saul Bellow for the Forward Magazine.

VP of Membership Anjali Enjeti reviewed four books about women's anger for Rewire News, and spoke with author Glory Edim for Newsday.

Kevin O’Kelly reviewed Shane Bauer’s “American Prison” for the Christian Science Monitor.

Board member Mark Athitakis wrote about PBS’ Great American Read for the Washington Post.

Frank Freeman interviewed Andre Dubus III for America Magazine.

John Domini reviewed Jeff Jackson’s “Destroy All Monsters” for the Washington Post.

NBCC member Claude Peck reviewed Colm Toibin's “Mad, Bad, Dangerous to Know” in the Star Tribune.

Katharine Coldiron reviewed Tommy Orange's “There There” for the Times Literary Supplement.

Kathleen Rooney co-wrote an essay with Logan Berry about the poetry of Aase Berg for the Poetry Foundation.

Paul Wilner interviewed poet/musician Larry Beckett about his new novel in verse, “Amelia Earhart,” for Zyzzyva.

Dan Cryer reviewed Susan Orlean’s “The Library Book” for Newsday and John Wray’s “Godsend” for the San Francisco Chronicle

Kelly Flynn reviewed Tasha Coryell's “Hungry People” for Empty Mirror.

Nathaniel Popkin wrote about Timothy Morton’s “Being Ecological,” Donna Haraway’s “Staying With the Trouble,” Almir Surui’s “Save the Planet,” and Alexis Shotwell’s “Against Purity” for Public Books..

Tim Riley reviewed Saul Austerlitz’s “Just a Shot Away: Peace, Love, and Tragedy With The Rolling Stones at Altamont” for TruthDig.

For Foreword Reviews, NBCC Emerging Critic Letitia Montgomery-Rodgers reviewed Heather Rose’s novel inspired by Marina Abramović, “The Museum of Modern Love”; photographer Ryan J. Bush’s “The Music of Trees”; Mary Ann Esposito’s latest cookbook, “Ciao Italia: My Lifelong Food Adventures in Italy”; Kelly J. Beard’s memoir, “An Imperfect Rapture”; and Jane Yolen’s instructive short story collection, “How to Fracture a Fairy Tale.”

Tobias Carroll wrote about the new edition of Thomas Ligotti's “The Conspiracy Against the Human Race” for the Cleveland Review of Books.

Robert Birnbaum interviewed George Pelecanos for Our Man in Boston.

Member news:

On The Seawall, Ron Slate’s 11-year old book review site, has relaunched as a redesigned online literary magazine with new writing across genres and commentary.

Michelle Bailat-Jones’s second novel, Unfurled (Ig Publishing), was published on October 23. The novel received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly.

Former NBCC board member (and Balakian winner) Ron Charles is among the judges for this year's Story Prize.

NBCC members note: Your reviews seed this roundup. Pease 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.