Critical Notes

New reviews and more from NBCC members

By Michael Schaub

Last week, the board of the National Book Critics Circle outlined our plan to make our organization a better and more inclusive place for all of our members. We’ll regularly be updating our members on the steps we’re taking to make positive changes to our organization. 

We want to hear our members’ ideas on how we move forward as an organization and how the NBCC can best support marginalized communities, including LGBTQ+ writers, writers from black, indigenous, and other communities of color, and writers of all ages and abilities. We’d love your feedback — if you have any questions, comments or ideas for the future of the NBCC, please reach out to us at

Member Reviews

Tess Taylor reviewed Susan Howe’s Concordance for The New York Times Book Review.

Martha Anne Toll reviewed Sejal Shah’s debut book of essays, This Is One Way to Dance, for NPR.

Susan Coll reviewed Connie Schultz’s The Daughters of Erietown for The Washington Post.

Board member Colette Bancroft reviewed Brit Bennett’s The Vanishing Half for the Tampa Bay Times.

Yvonne C. Garrett reviewed Kathy Valentine’s All I Ever Wanted and Camille A. Collins’ The Exene Chronicles for The Brooklyn Rail, and Amanda Brainerd’s Age of Consent for Publishers Weekly.

Michael Bobelian reviewed Michael Shermer’s Giving the Devil His Due and Thane Rosenbaum’s Saving Free Speech…From Itself for The Washington Post.

K.L. Romo reviewed The Last Trial by Scott Turow, The Persuasion by Iris Johansen, Sister Dear by Hannah Mary McKinnon, No Going Back by Sheena Kamal, and The Murder of Twelve by Jessica Fletcher and Jon Land for The Big Thrill magazine. She also reviewed An Unequal Defense by Chad Zunker for Texas Lifestyle Magazine; and Hunting Whitey by Casey Sherman and Dave Wedge and The Silence by Susan Allott for the Washington Independent Review of Books.

Julia M. Klein reviewed Masha Gessen’s Surviving Autocracy for The Forward.

Also at The Forward, former NBCC board member and winner of the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing Steven G. Kellman reviewed Anna Goldenberg’s I Belong to Vienna.

Curt Schleier reviewed Andrew Coté’s Honey and Venom for the Star Tribune.

Priscilla Gilman reviewed Death In Her Hands by Ottessa Moshfegh for The Boston Globe.

Ron Slate reviewed Eduardo Porter’s American Poison: How Racial Hostility Destroyed Our Promise for On The Seawall.

Diane Scharper reviewed The End of October by Lawrence Wright for America magazine.

Laura Sandonato reviewed Eliese Colette Goldbach’s Rust: A Memoir of Steel and Grit for Picking Books.

Lanie Tankard reviewed Stay: threads, conversations, collaborations by Nick Flynn for The Woven Tale Press.

In The Brooklyn Rail, John Domini reviewed two books of poetry, each dealing with grief: Toxicon and Arachne by Joyelle McSweeney and Seeing the Body by Rachel Eliza Griffith.

W. Scott Olsen reviewed Mat Hennek’s Silent Cities for Frames magazine.

Diana Arterian reviewed Jenny Zhang’s My Baby First Birthday for the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Robert Allen Papinchak reviewed Richard Ford’s short story collection Sorry For Your Trouble for the Washington Independent Review of Books

Michael J. McCann reviewed Undercard by David Albertyn for the New York Journal of Books.

Ellen Prentiss Campbell reviewed Andres Neuman’s Fracture for the Fiction Writers Review.

Chris Barsanti reviewed Christian Brose’s The Kill Chain for PopMatters.

Charles Green reviewed Jenn Shapland’s My Autobiography of Carson McCullers for The Gay & Lesbian Review.  

Michelle Newby Lancaster reviewed The Bright Lands by John Fram for Lone Star Literary Life.

Allen Barra reviewed How The South Won the Civil War: Oligarchy, Democracy, and the Continuing Fight for the Soul of America by Heather Cox Richardson and When It was Grand: The Radical Republican History of the Civil War by LeeAnna Keith for The National Book Review. He also reviewed Sidney Blumenthal’s third volume in his five-part series on Lincoln for The National Book Review.

Member Interviews

Martha Anne Toll interviewed Michelle de Kretser about her book-length essay On Shirley Hazzard for Bloom.

W. Scott Olsen interviewed photographer Chris Rose, best known for his aviation photography, for a podcast at Frames magazine.

Anne Charles interviewed writer Juliana Delgado Lopera about their recent novel Fiebre Tropical  on the cable news show All Things LGBTQ.

Paul Wilner interviewed Larry Beckett about his latest narrative poem, “Wyatt Earp – Poetic Narrative of a Wild Life in the WIld West,” for ZYZZYVA.

Member News, Etc.

Katherine Hill‘s second novel, A Short Move, will be released on June 16 by Ig Publishing. It’s the life story of a fictional NFL player, and it’s been called one of the most anticipated books of the year by both ELLE and The Millions.

Christoph Irmscher published “Eyes Wide Shut” in Phi Kappa Phi Forum, an essay on Emily Dickinson, Rosamond Purcell, Caribbean monk seals, and the blind eye we turn to the extinction of nonhuman life around us.  

Focusing on her latest book, Birthright: Poems, Erika Dreifus appeared (with Ellen Meeropol and Sandell Morse) in Literary Modiin’s first virtual author event, hosted by Julie Zuckerman.

In the Daily Beast, Allen Barra relates the story of Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh’s song about a long-lost love, and G.K. Chesterton’s impressions of the U.S. almost 100 ago in What I Saw in America.

Oline Cogdill was interviewed about reviewing mysteries for the South Florida PBS channel WPBT. The interview is available on Facebook and YouTube and will be aired later in June.

Mark A. Murphy has reviewed Mary Mackey‘s collection of poetry The Jaguars That Prowl Our Dreams in the June issue of The Poetry Shed
W. Scott Olsen’s essay “Fair Warning” appears in the current issue of Lake Effect.

Photo by Garry Knight via Flickr / CC BY 2.0.