Critical Notes

New reviews and more from the NBCC

By Michael Schaub

“Love is what carries you, for it is always there, even in the dark, or most in the dark, but shining out at times like gold stitches in a piece of embroidery.” — Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter: A Novel

Dear members, we hope you’re all staying safe and taking care of yourselves and your loved ones. Thanks for continuing to share your reviews, features and news with us. We hope you’ll continue to do so, and that if you know of any ways that NBCC members can help those struggling, you’ll let us know by emailing us at Please stay home, stay safe, and keep writing.

Member Reviews

Julia M. Klein reviewed Alex Beam’s Broken Glass for the Chicago Tribune.

Board member Lori Feathers wrote about the fiction of Emily St. John Mandel in the latest installment of her “In Context” series for Literary Hub.

Christoph Irmscher reviewed Adam Hochschild’s Rebel Cinderella for The Wall Street Journal.

Robert Allen Papinchak reviewed Emily St. John Mandel’s The Glass Hotel for Washington Independent Review of Books

Board member Michael Schaub reviewed The Glass Hotel for NPR.

Eric Nguyen reviewed The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai for diaCRITICS.

Tobias Carroll has a new column up at Words Without Borders on new books in translation.

Rien Fertel reviewed Grace Elizabeth Hale’s Cool Town for The A.V. Club and wrote about Speed Lamkin’s classic Louisiana novel, Tiger in the Garden, for 64 Parishes.

Erika Dreifus reviewed The Passover Haggadah: A Biography by Vanessa L. Ochs for Hadassah Magazine.

Audra J. Wolfe reviewed Michael Gordin’s Einstein in Bohemia for the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Fran Hawthorne reviewed Walter Kempowski’s Marrow and Bone for the New York Journal of Books.

Jeremy Lybarger reviewed The Dominant Animal by Kathryn Scanlan for 4Columns.

Member Interviews

Board member Carolyn Kellogg talked to Emily St. John Mandel about her books The Glass Hotel and Station Eleven for The Los Angeles Times.

Elaine Szewczyk profiled author Scott Turow for Publishers Weekly.

Ilana Masad interviewed Megan Giddings about her debut novel Lakewood for The Los Angeles Times and interviewed Rachel Vorona Cote, author of Too Much, for The Rumpus.

Meredith Maran interviewed Laura Zigman and Alex Halberstadt for the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Sarah Neilson interviewed Paul Lisicky about his latest memoir, Later: My Life at the Edge of the World for They also wrote several roundups: 7 Social Distancing Reads for the Seattle Times; 10 New Books for Womxn’s History Month for BookMarks; and for Electric Lit, 14 Highly Anticipated LGBTQ+ Books for Spring and 15 Winter Mood Reads.

Tobias Carroll talked to Broken Faith authors Mitch Weiss and Holbrook Mohr about cults, politics, and religion for InsideHook.

Jocelyn McClurg interviewed Chris Bohjalian, whose new thriller is The Red Lotus, for Kirkus Reviews.

Kathleen Rooney talked to Javier Ramirez and Mary Mollman about their bookstore, Madison Street Books, and bookselling during COVID-19 for the Chicago Tribune.

Member News, Etc.

Terese Svoboda’s short story collection Great American Desert, published by Mad Creek Books, has been named a 2019 Foreword Indies Finalist. 

Former board member David Biespiel has a revised and updated version of his book Every Writer Has a Thousand Faces out now, featuring a new foreword by Chuck Palahniuk, from Kelson Books.

Brian Teare, a finalist for the 2019 National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry, won the Four Quartets Prize for a poem from his collection Doomstead Days. Another NBCC Award nominee, Ilya Kaminsky, was named a finalist for the award. Among the judges for the Four Quartets Prize was Maureen McLane, a past winner of the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing and a past finalist for the NBCC Award for Autobiography.

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.

Photo of Wendell Berry in Henry County, Ky., by Guy Mendes / CC BY-SA 3.0.