Critical Notes

Critical Notes: Awards Update, Our New Website, and More

By Mark Athitakis

2017 award recipients, photographed the NBCC awards.

Notice to members and NBCC awards attendees from President Laurie Hertzel:
We regret to inform you that all of the NBCC public events–the Finalists Reading, the awards ceremony and the membership meeting–have been canceled because of the threat of the coronavirus.  The gala party will be postponed until fall.

Our New Website

The NBCC has a new website! The beautiful design, with much improved organization of information, comes from our new developer, Castle Builder. All of the content from the old site has been migrated and is searchable here, and we have created new features for members. On the Members Only page, you’ll see a newsfeed with updates from members. To be featured here, just click on Your Directory Profile and editor your Recent Review. Also in Members Only, you’ll find updates from the NBCC President, the list of publications for freelancers, access to membership benefits such as subscription discounts, and the archive of NBCC newsletters going back to 1975.

Member Reviews:

Diane Scharper reviewed Megan Phelps-Roper’s Unfollow, Diane Rehm’s When My Time Comes, and Peter Feuerherd’s The Radical Gospel of Bishop Gumbleton for the National Catholic Reporter.

Melissa Pierson reviewed Jeff Sharlet’s This Brilliant Darkness for Hyperallergic.   

Tobias Carroll reviewed Mira Ptacin’s The In-Betweens, a history of Spiritualism in Maine, for the Portland Press Herald.

Barbara J. King reviewed Jeff VanderMeer’s Dead Astronauts and Borne for Tenderly Magazine

Clea Simon reviewed Hilary Mantel’s The Mirror and the Light for the Boston Globe. Hamilton Cain reviewed Mantel’s novel for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

NBCC president Laurie Hertzel reviewed Dionne Searcey’s memoir In Pursuit of Disobedient Women for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, where she is the senior editor of books.

Jeffrey Mannix reviewed Riku Onda’s The Aosawa Murders by Riku Onda for the Durango Telegraph.

Rayyan Al-Shawaf reviewed Rodaan Al Galidi’s novel Two Blankets, Three Sheets, for the LA Review of Books

Angie Jabine profiled Duncan Ryūken Williams, author of American Sutra: A Story of Faith and Freedom in the Second World War, for Reed Magazine.

Scott Porch reviewed Ezra Klein’s Why We’re Polarized for the Daily Beast.

Ellen Prentiss Campbell reviewed Anne Enright’s Actress for Fiction Writers Review and Louise Erdrich’s The Night Watchman for the Washington Independent Review of Books.

Jason Berry wrote an appreciation of the late Ernest J. Gaines, whose novel A Lesson Before Dying received the 1993 NBCC award for fiction, for America Magazine.

Roxana Robinson wrote about Virginia Woolf for the New Yorker

Philip Kopper reviewed Erik Larson’s The Splendid and the Vile and Meryle Secrest’s The Mysterious Affair at Olivetti for the Washington Times.

Kevin Blankinship reviewed Jeffrey Einboden’s Jefferson’s Muslim Fugitives: The Lost Story of Enslaved Africans, Their Arabic Letters, and an American President for the Hedgehog Review.

Sarah Neilson interviewed Brandon Taylor about his debut novel, Real Life, for them.

Joan Silverman reviewed Jason Brown’s A Faithful but Melancholy Account of Several Barbarities Lately Committed for the Portland Press Herald.

Marnie Mueller reviewed Mildred D. Taylor’s All the Days to Come for Peace Corps Worldwide.

Member News:

Rod Davis was a finalist for the 2020 Edwin “Bud” Shrake Award for Best Short Nonfiction from the Texas Institute of Letters for his essay, “Mother Courage,” in The Baffler, on Uwe Johnson’s newly translated Anniversaries: From a Year in the Life of Gesine Cresspahl.