Critical Notes

Awards roundup, reviews, and other wonderful things

By Laurie Hertzel

Tommy Orange. Photo by Paper Monday.

John Leonard Prize winner Tommy Orange. Photo credit Paper Monday.


Awards news

The annual NBCC awards ceremony of March 14 was covered broadly and well. So happy to see so many members at our membership meeting that morning.

Zack Graham interviewed Tommy Orange the night he received the John Leonard Prize. The interview ran in Graham's Epiphany Magazine column.

Here are some of the news stories:

Associated Press

Book Marks

The Minneapolis Star Tribune

NBC News

New York Times

Publishers Weekly

Shelf Awareness

Texas Monthly


Washington Post

Washington Post newsletter


Members' reviews and interviews

NBCC Board Member Victoria Chang interviewed poet and editor, David Baker for Tupelo Quarterly.

NNBCC Emerging Critic Letitia Montgomery-Rodgers reviewed “Appalachian Reckoning: A Region Responds to Hillbilly Elegy,” edited by Anthony Harkins and Meredith McCarroll, and “Anatomy of Silence: Twenty-Six Stories About All the Shit That Gets in the Way of Speaking About Sexual Violence”  edited by Cyra Perry Dougherty, both for Foreword Reviews. 

Michelle Newby Lancaster reviewed Sarah Bird's “Recent Studies Indicate: The Best of Sarah Bird” for Lone Star Literary Life.

The extremely busy Tobias Carroll wrote about Kathryn Davis's “The Silk Road” for the Minneapolis StarTribune; interviewed Mark Alan Stamaty for Bedford + Bowery; talked with Irvine Welsh at Longreads, and has a new column up at Words Without Borders.

For Kirkus, Gerald Bartell interviewed Mallory O’Meara about her book “The Lady from the Black Lagoon: Hollywood Monsters and the Lost Legacy of Millicent Patrick.” 

Mike Lindgren interviews Victoria Riskin (better known as the daughter of Fay Wray, the iconic star of “King Kong”) about her new book, which, he notes, is ,less a famous-parent memoir than  a history of Hollywood’s golden age. He notes that the interview (for Newsday) took place in the Empire State Building. Of course.

Barbara J. King (welcome back, Barbara!) reviewed “The Goodness Paradox” by Richard Wrangham for the Times Literary Supplement, and “Mama's Last Hug” by Frans De Waal for NPR.

Elizabeth Rosner reviewed Carolyn Forché's new memoir for the San Francisco Chronicle.

Christoph Irmscher reviews Juergen Goldstein's “Georg Forster: Voyager, Naturalist, Revolutionary” for the Wall Street Journal.

Kathleen Rooney interviewed Lucy Knisley for the Chicago Tribune.

Meredith Maran reviewed “Inheritance” by Dani Shapiro for the L.A. Review of Books.

 Amy Weldon reviewed Adam Nicolson's “The Seabird's Cry” for Orion Magazine.

Joan Silverman reviewed “Elsey Come Home” by Susan Conley for the Press Herald.

Former board member and Balakian recipient Steven G. Kellman reviewed Carolyn Forché's memoir “What You Have Heard Is True” for the Washington Post.

Rayyan Al-Shawaf reviewed “Pay No Heed to the Rockets: Life in Contemporary Palestine” by Marcello Di Cintio, and “A Rebel in Gaza: Behind the Lines of the Arab Spring, One Woman’s Story” by Asmaa al-Ghoul and Selim Nassib for The Believer.

Meg Waite Clayton's monthly “Listening In” for the San Francisco Chronicle reviews the audiobooks of Yangsze Choo's The Night Tiger, Devi Laskar's debut novel, The Atlas of Reds and Blues, and Toni Morrison's The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditations.

Over on his blog, Robert Birnbaum, also known as Our Man in Boston, has been busy writing about baseball, Jim Harrison, Charles McCarry, and many other things.

David Nilsen interviewed poet Emily O'Neill about her book “A Falling Knife Has No Handle” for On the Seawall and reviewed Sarah Barber's poetry collection Country House for Southern Indiana Review.

Paul Wilner interviewed Erik Tarloff about his new novel, “The Woman In Black'' for ZYZZYVA magazine.

Yvonne Garrett reviewed Malcolm James's “Black Leopard, Red Wolf” for The Brooklyn Rail.

Julia M. Klein interviews Snowden Wright about his novel, “American Pop,” for Dartmouth Alumni Magazine. She also reviews Ayelet Tsabari's “The Art of Leaving” for the Forward, and Cara Robertson's “The Trial of Lizzie Borden” for the Boston Globe.

Chuck Greaves reviewed Peter Heller's “The River” for the Four Corners Free Press.

Lanie Tankard reviewed Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman's memoir “Sounds Like Titanic” for The Woven Tale Press.

Joseph Peschel reviewed  Andrew Ridken’s first novel, “The Altruists,” for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He also reports the happy news that he has completed work as the script consultant on the short film, “The Ghost in Her,” written, produced, and directed by Michael Gérard White and is working as a script consultant on a second film.

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.

Laurie Hertzel is the senior editor for books at the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the president of the NBCC board