Critical Notes

Toni Morrison, Katharine Smyth, and Helen Oyeyemi

By Taylor Anhalt


Julia M. Klein reviewed Pamela S. Nadell's “America's Jewish Women” for the Forward.

Pam Munter reviewed “Wit’s End: What Wit Is, How It Works, and Why We Need It” by James Geary for Fourth and Sycamore.

Colette Bancroft reviewed Toni Morrison’s “The Source of Self-Regard” for Tampa Bay Times.

Vice President/Membership Anjali Enjeti reviewed Anissa Gray's “The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls” for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Vice President/Online Jane Ciabattari's March BBC Culture column includes a  memoir by NBCC award honored poet Carolyn Forche.

NBCC Emerging Critic Letitia Montgomery-Rodgers interviewed Kim McLarin, author of “Womanish: A Grown Black Woman Speaks on Love and Life,” for Foreword Reviews. 

Kathleen Rooney reviewed “Magical Negro” by Morgan Parker for Los Angeles Review of Books.

Alexander Kafka reviewed Joseph Scapellato's debut novel, “The Made-Up Man,” for LA Review of Books.

Jim Ruland reviewed Sam Lipsyte's “Hark” for San Diego CityBeat.

Joanne B. Mulcahy interviewed biographer Megan Marshall for the Women's Review of Books March/April issue.

Melissa Holbrook Pierson reviewed “Trump Sky Alpha” for the Washington Post and “All the Lives We Ever Lived” for the Barnes and Noble Review. Jenny Bhatt also reviewed Katharine Smyth's “All the Lives We Ever Lived” for PopMatters.

NBCC VP/Tech David Varno spoke with criticism finalist Robert Christgau about his new collection, “Book Reports: A Music Critic on His First Love, Which Was Reading,” for Publishers Weekly.

Paul Gleason reviewed W.K. Stratton's “The Wild Bunch: Sam Peckinpah, A Revolution in Hollywood, and the Making of a Legendary Film” in the Los Angeles Times.

Balakian winner and former NBCC board member Ron Charles posted an episode of The Totally Hip Video Book Review about Helen Oyeyemi's novel “Gingerbread” in the Washington Post, where he is a book critic. Hamilton Cain also reviewed ”Gingerbread,” which will run in Sunday's Minneapolis Star-Tribune.


Other News:

Daniel Mendelsohn, an NBCC award winner in autobiography and finalist in criticism, has been named editor at large at the New York Review of Books.


NBCC News 

This year's National Book Critics Circle membership meeting will be on Thursday, March 14, from 10 a.m. to noon at The New School. That's also the day of the awards ceremony. All members are welcome. Membership meeting at 10 a.m., with coffee and bagels provided. At 11, we'll have a panel titled  “The Stephen King Solution; Could It Work Elsewhere?” moderated by Carlin Romano. The membership meeting ends at noon, and the board begins awards consideration and voting at 12:30.

Join us also for the Finalists' reading at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 13, also at the New School, the awards ceremony at 6:30 p.m. on March 14, and the gala awards after-party, celebrating books and our finalists. Tickets $50 for members in advance.

Applications are now being accepted for the third year of the NBCC Alan Cheuse Emerging Critics Fellowships. Deadline April 3.  Details here.

SAVE THE DATE: The National Book Critics Circle is an AWP literary partner. Come see our featured reading at AWP2019 in Portland on Thursday, March 28, at 4:30 p.m., with NBCC (and Booker) Fiction Award winner Paul Beatty and NBCC (and PEN/Faulkner) Fiction Award winner Joan Silber, conversation with NBCC president Kate Tuttle. And come see us at Bookfair Booth #4010.

The 31 Books in 30 Days series begins week 5 today. Almost done! Do go back and read them all before the awards ceremony.

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.