Critical Notes

Black History Month, Kaleidoscopic Portraits of Girls of Color, and Dreyer’s English

By David Varno

NBCC board member and Newsday books editor Tom Beer wrote about books to read during Black History Month.

Rochelle Spencer reported on “The Oakland Renaissance: A Roundtable of Afro-Futurist Luminaries,” a roundtable featuring thoughts from Ishmael Reed, Raina J. León, Jeneé Darden, and five other Afrofuturist writers, for The Millions. “The Right to Feel,” Rochelle Spencer's review of Ivelisse Rodriguez's Love War Stories and Camille Acker's Training School for Negro Girls was published in the Women's Review of Books.

Mike Lindgren reviewed Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style for On the Seawall.

VP/Online Jane Ciabattari's BBC Culture column for February includes an early novel by NBCC fiction award winner Roberto Bolaño.

Treasurer Marion Winik reviewed The Water Cure, by Sophie Mackintosh, in Newsday, as well as The Falconer, by Dana Czapnik and The Martin Chronicles, by John Fried.

Julia M. Klein reviewed Robert H. Mnookin's The Jewish American Paradox for the Forward.

Dana Wilde reviewed Elevation by Stephen King in his Off Radar column in the Central Maine newspapers and profiled former Alaska Poet Laureate Tom Sexton for The Working Waterfront newspaper.

Ilana Masad reviewed Burned by Edward Humes, a look at fire science and its inaccuracies, and Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal, a rom-com novel with serious undertones, both for NPR.

Kathleen Stone reviewed Black is the Body: Stories from My Grandmother’s Time, My Mother’s Time, and Mine, by Emily Bernard for Ploughshares.

Martha Anne Toll reviewed Sarah McColl's Joy Enough for NPR.

Elvia Wilk reviewed Tim Maughan's book Infinite Detail for Bookforum.

Hamilton Cain reviewed Emily Bernard's Black is the Body for Chapter 16.

NBCC Emerging Critic and incoming board member Hope Wabuke is featured in this week's Secrets of the Book Critics

Allen Adams reviewed Golden State by Ben H. Winters, Elsey Come Home by Susan Conley, and The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker for the Maine Edge.

In her Columbia Journal essay, “How to Die Old in Chongqing,” Xujun Eberlein looks into the ever-changing funeral culture in a Chinese city through personal experience.

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.