Critical Notes

Deadlines for Board Nominations, Balakian and Leonard Prizes, and More

By Mark Athitakis

NBCC Deadlines

The deadline for submitting your SurveyMonkey ballot for the John Leonard award for best first book is December 7. You should have received a ballot by email. Check out the blog posts in the #NBCCLeonard series here.

The deadline for submitting a candidate statement to run for one of the eight open seats on the NBCC board is December 7.

The deadline for nominating yourself for the Balakian award for excellence in book reviewing, which comes with a $1,000 award thanks to board member Gregg Barrios, is December 10. (You can join or renew your membership by that date to be eligible.)  

Plus: What’s your favorite book about books? Submit your essay of 500 words or less for our latest NBCC Reads series, curated by NBCC emerging critic Natalia Holtzman. Details here.

Member Reviews

Hamilton Cain reviewed Joanne Freeman's The Field of Blood and Andrew Delbanco's The War Before the War for the Barnes & Noble Review.

Robert Allen Papinchak reviewed Sarah Pinborough's Cross Her Heart for the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Balakian winner Laurie Stone reviewed the anonymous memoir The Incest Diary as well as Diane Seuss’ Still Life With Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl for the Women’s Review of Books.

Meg Waite Clayton's essay, “Madeleine L'Engle's Midcentury Version of 'She Persisted,'” appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

Daniel Asa Rose interviewed Anne Lamott a few weeks ago for Literary Hub.

Board member and former NBCC president Jane Ciabattari reviewed new novels by Tom Barbash and Wendy Guerra in her BBC Culture column, and interviewed Helen Shulman about five books that came out of Stanford, including work by ZZ Packer and Elizabeth Tallent, for Literary Hub.

Erika Dreifus' recent keynote address for the 24th Annual Jewish American and Holocaust Literature (JAHLIT) Symposium has been published on the Moment magazine website as “On Being a Jewish American Writer in 2018.” She also collected “end-of-year reading recommendations from and for practicing writers” from Jennifer Baker, Roxane Gay, John Sibley Williams, and many others for the Practicing Writer newsletter.

Emerging Critic Jonathan Leal reviewed Nick Coleman’s Voices for the Los Angeles Times:

Brian Haman reviewed Yan Lianke’s The Day the Sun Died for the Asian Review of Books and interviewed Hiroaki Sato for the Japan Times.

Martha Anne Toll reviewed Extinctions by Josephine Wilson, Australia's 2017 Miles Franklin winner, for NPR Books.  

Kathleen Rooney reviewed Theodore Van Alst’s Sacred Smokes for the Chicago Tribune.

Jenny Shank interviewed Jonathan Evison for High Country News; reviewed books by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, May-Lee Chai, Nicole Chung, and May-Lan Tan for the Dallas Morning News; and interviewed Arthur Yorinks, frequent collaborator with Maurice Sendak, for the Barnes & Noble blog.

Andrew Ervin reviewed Yukio Mishima’s posthumous novel Frolic of the Beasts for the Washington Post.

Gregory Couch reviewed Jeffrey D. Wert’s Civil War Barons: The Tycoons, Entrepreneurs, Inventors, and Visionaries Who Forged Victory and Shaped a Nation for the Wall Street Journal.

Kevin O’Rourke reviewed Tommy Pico's book-length poem Junk for the Kenyon Review.

Joe Peschel reviewed The William H. Gass Reader for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Star Tribune books editor and NBCC board member Laurie Hertzel compiled nearly 60 books to give for the holidays—including the annual top ten books from top critics.

NBCC member Steve Paul's review of Charles J. Shields' latest literary biography, The Man Who Wrote the Perfect Novel: John Williams, Stoner and the Writing Life, appeared in Booklist.

Member News

Board Member and former NBCC President Carlin Romano has been named an Inaugural Free Speech Fellow by the University of California’s new National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement in Washington, D.C. The award, which comes with a $20,000 honorarium, includes an invitation for Carlin to visit the University of California, Irvine, for a free-speech lecture, a debate with Irvine philosopher Aaron James on the proposition, “Is Donald Trump an Asshole?”, and a documentary screening and community conversation about the future of free speech in Hong Kong. As part of the fellowship, Carlin is also writing a series of articles under the general rubric, “When Free Speech on Campus Becomes `Unacceptable.’” 

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.