Critical Notes

New reviews and more from our members

By Carolyn Kellogg

The NY Public Library.

If you’re reading this online you have probably noticed that our website looks a little different. It’s thanks to a few changes behind the scenes that we’re really excited about. Those reading the newsletter won’t see any difference, but if you’re a member, swing by, log in and create your own page in our membership directory. It’s a great way to share your latest criticism and other news all in one place.

Now, on to the latest from our members.

Clea Simon reviewed Emma Donoghue’s new novel Akin for the Boston Globe.

Christoph Irmscher reviewed Patrick Mauriès’ Cabinets of Curiosities for the Wall Street Journal.

Martha Anne Toll reviewed Aarti Namdev Shahani’s memoir Here We Are for NPR Books.

Paul Wilner reviewed Matthew Zapruder’s new poetry collection Father’s Day for Alta Journal.

NBCC board member David Varno reviewed Animalia by Jean-Baptiste Del Amo, translated by Frank Wynne, for Orion Magazine.

Former NBCC president Tom Beer wrote about reading a short story every day for Kirkus Reviews, where he is editor-in-chief.

Jane Ciabattari, another former NBCC president,  recommends 10 October books at the BBC.

Former NBCC Emerging Critic Letitia Montgomery-Rodgers reviewed Lara Vapnyar’s Divide Me By Zero for Foreward Reviews.

Former NBCC board member and Balakian Prize recipient Steven G. Kallman reviews the 944-page Big Wonderful Thing: A History of Texas by Stephen Harrigan for the Texas Observer.

Kathleen Rooney reviewed of Kate Wisel’s short story collection Driving in Cars with Homeless Men  for the Chicago Tribune.

John Glassie reviewed Paul Hendrickson’s Plagued by Fire: The Dreams and Furies of Frank Lloyd Wright for the Washington Post.

Ellen Akins reviewed Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin Barry for the Washington Post and Anne Patchett’s The Dutch House for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Tara Cheesman reviewed The Ticking Heart by Andrew Kaufman for Barrelhouse Review and Sergio Chejfec’s The Incompletes, translated by Heather Cleary, for Ron Slate’s On the Seawall.

Kamil Ahsan reviewed Anne Serre’s The Fool and Other Moral Tales for Nylon and Ben Lerner’s The Topeka School for the AV Club.

Zack Graham reviewed Lerner’s The Topeka School at Epiphany.

John Domini reviewed Jokha Alharthi’s Celestial Bodies, translated by Marilyn Booth, for the Brooklyn Rail.

Allen Adams reviewed three books at The Maine Edge: The Divers’ Game by Jesse Ball, The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Full Throttle by Joe Hill.

Diane Scharper reviewed three memoirs together for the National Catholic Reporter: Inconvenient Memories by Anna Wang, The Farmer’s Son by John Connell, and Knitting the Fog by Claudia D. Hernández.

Yvonne Garrett reviewed two novels together for the Brooklyn Rail: Nell Zink’s Doxology and Suzette Haden Elgin’s Native Tongue.

Sarah Neilson wrote about fall books by LGBTQ writers for, recommended fall memoirs at Buzzfeed, and interviewed Leslie Jamison about Make It Scream, Make It Burn for LARB.

Jean Huets reviewed Brian Evenson’s horror story collection, Song for the Unraveling World, at Kenyon Review.

Michael J. McCann reviewed Craig Johnson’s new Longmire novel, Land of Wolves, for the New York Journal of Books.

Robert Allen Papinchak reviewed Kate Atkinson’s 2018 novel Transcription and Stephen Chbosky’s new novel Imaginary Friend in the Washington Independent Review of Books.

Joseph Peschel reviewed MacTrump, a mashup of Trump and Macbeth, for the Oregonian.

Michelle Newby Lancaster reviewed Ain’t Nobody Nobody by Heather Harper Ellett for Lone Star Literary Life.

Laura Sandonato reviewed Viktor E. Frankel’s 1946 book Man’s Search for Meaning for Picking Books.

Other member news:

Susan Henderson, a lifetime member of the NBCC, will spend the next month writing at the Hawthornden Castle in Scotland as part of a fellowship from the Drue Heinz Fund.

Page Hill Starzinger’s next poetry collection Vortex Street will be published by Barrow Street Press in spring 2020.

An interview Daniel Nester conducted in 1997 with Slovenian poet Tomaž Šalamun, who died in 2014, has been published in The Critical Flame.

John Domini was interviewed by David Dario Winner in the Millions, about his novel The Color Inside a Melon.

NBCC members: Send us your stuff! Your work may be highlighted in this roundup; please send links to new reviews, features and other literary pieces, or tell us about awards, honors or new and forthcoming books, by dropping a line to