Critical Notes

Reviews from the NBCC. Awards are around the corner!

By Carolyn Kellogg

Zora Neale Hurston photo by Carl Van Vechten, 1938.

NBCC friends and members: Our awards are coming March 12! The awards are free, followed by a post-awards celebratory fundraiser with drinks and snack and literary luminaries. Get tickets now.


Collette Bancroft reviewed the Zora Neale Hurston story collection Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick for the Tampa Bay Times.

Martha Anne Toll reviewed Philip Kennicott’s Counterpoint: A Memoir of Bach and Mourning for NPR.

Heller McAlpin reviewed Julian Barnes’ The Man in the Red Coat for NPR.

Christoph Irmscher reviewed Nina Amstutz’s Caspar David Friedrich: Nature and the Self  (Yale University Press) for the Wall Street Journal.

Ben Yagoda reviewed Citizen Reporters by Stephanie Gorton for the Wall Street Journal.

Gaiutra Bahadur considered Hazel Carby’s 2019 book Imperial Intimacies in the Nation.

Board member Carolyn Kellogg (that’s me) reviewed Yellow Bird: Oil, Murder and a Woman’s Search for Justice in Indian Country by Sierra Crane Murdoch for the Los Angeles Times.

Former NBCC Emerging Critic Jennie Hann interviewed Teddy Wayne about his new novel, Apartment, for the Los Angeles Times.

Elias Rodriques reviewed Amaud Jamaul Johnson’s Imperial Liquor and Rowan Ricardo Phillips’ Living Weapon for the Poetry Foundation.

Grace Lichtenstein reviewed Home Making, the debut novel by Lee Matalone, for Bookpage.

Jean Huets reviewed Where You’re All Going: Four Novellas, by Joan Frank, in Ron Slate’s On the Seawall.

Robin Kaiser-Schatzlein reviewed David Enrich’s Dark Towers at the New Republic.

Michelle Newby Lancaster reviewed Barn 8 by Deb Olin Unferth for Lone Star Literary Life.

David R. Altman published a review of Remember Henry Harris by Sam Heys, in the Braselton (Ga.) News.

Kathleen Rooney reviewed Alison McGhee’s The Opposite of Fate for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Julia M. Klein reviewed Justus Rosenberg’s memoir, The Art of Resistance, for the Forward and Jill Wine-Banks’s memoir, The Watergate Girl, for the Boston Globe.

Hamilton Cain reviewed Amnesty by Aravind Adiga, running this weekend in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and Why We’re Polarized  by Ezra Klein for O, the Oprah Magazine.

Tobias Carroll reviewed Marian Womack’s The Golden Key for and wrote about the works of Charles Portis, who died Feb. 17, for Inside Hook.

Caroline Tew reviewed Oligarchy by Scarlett Thomas for the Harvard Crimson.

John Domini reviewed And I Do Not Forgive You, short stories by Amber Sparks, for the Washington Post.

Rachael Nevins wrote about coming of age, dissent and Abigail by Magda Szabó at Ploughshares.

Eric Nguyen reviewed Real Life by Brandon Taylor for Ploughshares; Butterfly Yellow by Thanhhà Lại for diaCRITICS; andThe Starlet and the Spy by Ji-Min Lee, translated by Chi-Young Kim, for Spectrum Culture.

Alison Buckholtz reviewed Anna Wiener’s Uncanny Valley: A Memoir for the Florida Times-Union.

K.L. Romo interviewed Tori Eldridge about her novel The Ninja Daughter at the Washington Independent Review of Books.

Nina Schuyler interviewed Ann Harleman about her novel Tell Me, Signora at Fiction Advocate.

Heidi Seaborn interviewed Victoria Chang (NBCC Board member) about her new poetry collection Obit in the The Adroit Journal.

James H. Scott reviewed David M. Rubenstein’s The American Story: Conversations with Master Historians for Wellington Square Books.


Board member Tess Taylor has two books of poetry out this spring: Last West, a book length collage poem that is also a part of the Dorothea Lange: Words & Pictures Exhibition at MoMA (up through May 9); and Rift Zone from Red Hen Press.

Meg Waite Clayton’s The Last Train to London is a Jewish Book Award finalist.

John Domini was interviewed in Rain Taxi about his novel The Color Inside a Melon and also discussed the book with Lance Olsen in Vol. 1 Brooklyn.

Joan Gelfand had four poems published in Synchronized Chaos this month.

Former board member Linda Wolfe has died, her family has shared on social media. Wolfe published several works of fiction nonfiction, including Wasted: The Preppie Murder, which was a NY Times notable book in 1989. She was an active member of the NBCC, including serving on the board of directors, for more than 40 years.


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 Be sure to include the link to your work.