Critical Notes / Announcements

New reviews and more from NBCC members

By Michael Schaub

A Message from NBCC Vice President/Membership Richard Z. Santos

As Vice President of Membership, I would like to provide an update on the current state of the organization.

In the past few weeks, fifteen board members have resigned. We have heard from multiple members frustrated that the reasons for these resignations have not been officially communicated. The former board members resigned for a wide range of reasons. Several of them, but far from all, explained their reasoning in emails to the board. Some laid out their reasoning on social media or in the press. Besides pointing members to these sources, we will respect the privacy of the former board members. 

We are aware of multiple groups of members gathering support to remove a current board member. In addition, the NBCC has received nearly twenty emails calling for this board member’s removal, one of them with thirty signatures, and we have also received a handful of emails in support of this board member. Once we have verified that the required number of active members have joined this call, the special membership meeting to vote on the removal of a board member will be scheduled and announced. This special meeting will follow the NBCC bylaws, which state that removal is only possible if 2/3rds of those attending the meeting vote for removal.

As for the fifteen open seats on the board, we are in the process of gauging interest from both former board members and general members about joining us to fill out these terms. If you are interested in nominating yourself or someone else for appointment, please email

The future of the National Book Critics Circle lies with the membership. The board has sought out ideas from many members about the NBCC and its governance. Changes that have been recommended include: term limits, changing the size and responsibility of the board, involving the members more significantly in the awards process, and much more. The remaining board members are committed to gathering and implementing the best and most fair ideas, and to amending the bylaws as soon as possible to bring about change.

Change is a difficult and time-consuming process, and we apologize for not being more transparent in these weeks of turmoil. The remaining board members are committed to rebuilding the National Book Critics Circle and empowering our members. Despite the painful upheaval of the past few weeks, it is clear that there are many members who still feel passionately about this organization and the role it can play in the literary world.

Please reach out to our VP of Membership, Richard Z. Santos with any additional ideas or concerns.

Member Reviews

Martha Anne Toll reviewed David Litt’s Democracy in One Book or Less for NPR.

Also at NPR, NBCC Vice President/Online Michael Schaub reviewed Yu Miri’s Tokyo Ueno Station.

Carlos Lozada, a recipient of the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing, reviewed Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility and David Shimer’s Rigged for The Washington Post.

Robin Kaiser-Schatzlein reviewed Stephanie Kelton’s The Deficit Myth for The New Republic.

Sarah Ladipo Manyika reviewed Zora Neale Hurston’s Hitting a Straight Lick With a Crooked Stick for the New Statesman.

Christoph Irmscher reviewed Toby Musgrave’s The Multifarious Mr. Banks: From Botany Bay to Kew, The Natural Historian Who Shaped the World for The Wall Street Journal.

Joan Silverman reviewed Richard Ford’s Sorry for Your Trouble for the Portland Press Herald.

For O, the Oprah Magazine‘s Summer Books package, “Women of the World,” Hamilton Cain reviewed new titles from Brit Bennett, Kelli Jo Ford, Masha Gessen, Porochista Khakpour, Sophie Mackintosh, Francesca Marciano, Yu Miri, Audur Ava Ólafsdóttir, Maria Reva, Samanta Schweblin, and Natasha Trethewey.

Tobias Carroll reviewed Tracy O’Neill’s Quotients for, and wrote a column on translated books for Words Without Borders.

Zack Graham reviewed Ottessa Moshfegh’s Death in Her Hands for the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Amy Weldon reviewed John Freeman’s Dictionary of the Undoing for Orion Magazine

Oline H. Cogdill reviewed Perfectly Famous by Emily Liebert and The Wife Stalker by Liv Constantine for the Sun-Sentinel; both reviews were picked up by other publications.

Dana Wilde reviewed Alex Irvine’s Anthropocene Rag in his Off Radar column for the Central Maine Newspapers.

Paul Wilner reviewed Scott Spencer’s An Ocean Without a Shore for ZYZZYVA.

Edward Derby reviewed Charlotte Pence’s Code for The Rumpus.

Robert Allen Papinchak reviewed Roddy Doyle’s Love for the Washington Independent Review of Books.

Member Interviews

Jim Ruland profiled horror writer Paul Tremblay and his new novel, Survivor Song, for the Los Angeles Times.

Former board member Carolyn Kellogg interviewed science journalist Sonia Shah about her new book, The Next Great Migration, as well as her last, Pandemic, for Shondaland. Carolyn also appeared on the Reckon podcast from with summer book recommendations and more.

Anne Charles interviewed photographer Dona Ann McAdams about her show “Performative Acts” on the cable news show All Things LGBTQ.

Member News, Etc.

Past Emerging Critic Paul W. Gleason is a finalist for Washington Monthly‘s inaugural Kukula Award for Excellence in Nonfiction Book Reviewing for his review of The Diversity Delusion by Heather Mac Donald, which appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Dana Wilde‘s new book, A Backyard Book of Spiders in Maine, covering all the spider families found in Maine and the Northeast, with photos, descriptions, and topical essays, is now available from North Country Press. 

Connie Post’s book Prime Meridian was reviewed at Pedestal Magazine.

Clifford Garstang’s newest book, House of the Ancients & Other Stories, was reviewed at Peace Corps Writers.

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood via Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0.