Critical Notes

New reviews and more from NBCC members

By Michael Schaub

We hope everybody’s having a great August! Our members don’t seem to know the meaning of “summer vacation”—they’ve been especially busy this past week. Check out their reviews of the latest books by S.A. Cosby, Margot Livesey, Edmund White, Lisa Donovan and more, as well as some exciting member news about forthcoming books. Stay cool, stay safe, and—like our friend the library lion pictured above—remember to wear your mask!

Member Reviews and Essays

Gabino Iglesias reviewed Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby and Unspeakable Acts, edited by Sarah Weinman, for NPR.

Elias Rodriques reviewed Edward Onaci’s Free the Land for The Baffler and Walter Johnson’s The Broken Heart of America for Bookforum.

NBCC Vice President/Treasurer Marion Winik, who has two new knees, reviewed Austen Years by Rachel Cohen for The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Weekend by Charlotte Wood for the Star Tribune.

Daneet Steffens reviewed Margot Livesey’s The Boy in the Field for The Boston Globe.

Erik Gleibermann reviewed Edward Ball’s Life of a Klansman for The Washington Post.

For the September issue of O, the Oprah Magazine, Hamilton Cain covered new work from Akwaeke Emezi, Randall Kenan, Richard Kreitner, Jill Lepore, Jill McCorkle, Susan Minot, Rick Perlstein, Alice Randall, and David Heska Wanbli Weiden.

Christoph Irmscher reviewed Edward Melillo’s The Butterfly Effect for The Wall Street Journal. He also published an essay on Jeffrey Wolin’s new series of photographs, “Faces of Homelessness,” in the Od Review.

Joyce Sáenz Harris reviewed Julia Heaberlin’s We Are All the Same in the Dark for The Dallas Morning News.

NBCC Vice President/Technology and Online Michael Schaub reviewed Edmund White’s A Saint From Texas for The Texas Observer.

Rayyan Al-Shawaf reviewed Philippe Lançon’s Disturbance: Surviving Charlie Hebdo for The National Book Review.

Kathleen Rooney reviewed Lisa Donovan’s Our Lady of Perpetual Hunger for the Star Tribune.

Tom Beer wrote about memoirs of dysfunctional families for Kirkus Reviews.

Meg Waite Clayton’s monthly “New Books from Bay Area Authors” is up on Local News Matters: Bay City Books.

Oline H. Cogdill reviewed The Safe Place by Anna Downes, A Dangerous Breed by Glen Erik Hamilton, and Tampa Bay Noir, edited by NBCC board member and Tampa Bay Times books editor Colette Bancroft for the Sun Sentinel; the reviews also ran in other publications.

Clea Simon wrote about the difficult choices in world building during the pandemic for The Boston Globe.

Michael Sandlin reviewed Jessica Goudeau’s After the Last Border for The Texas Observer.

Clifford Garstang reviewed Curtis Smith’s The Magpie’s Return for the Southern Review of Books.

Jeffrey Mannix reviewed Puppies by Maurizio de Giovanni for his Murder Ink column in the Durango Telegraph, covering Colorado and the Four Corners of the Southwest.

Lisa Russ Spaar wrote a series of micro-reviews of second books of poems for the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Jean Huets reviewed The Lost Diary of Venice by Margaret Leroux and The Beauty and the Terror: The Italian Renaissance and the Rise of the West by Catherine Fletcher for the Historical Novel Society.

Fran Hawthorne reviewed Ellen Feldman’s Paris Never Leaves You for the New York Journal of Books.

Member Interviews

Tom Beer interviewed Morgan Jerkins about Wandering in Strange Lands: A Daughter of the Great Migration Reclaims Her Roots for Kirkus Reviews.

NBCC Vice President/Treasurer Marion Winik profiled Mary Morris for The Washington Post.

Anne Charles interviewed filmmaker Steven Dansky on the cable news show All Things LGBTQ. Dansky talks about his role as a member of the early Gay Liberation Front and discusses his current projects.

Member News

Kerri Arsenault’s forthcoming book Mill Town received starred reviews from Kirkus and Publishers Weekly and was chosen for the September 2020 Indie Next List. Kerri’s book will be published on Sept. 1 by St. Martin’s, and she’ll be embarking on more than 30 (!) virtual events in her online book tour.

Kathleen Rooney’s latest book, Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey, will be published by Penguin Books on Aug. 11. She’ll be embarking on a virtual book tour with more than a dozen events scheduled from August through November.

Board member Colette Bancroft has edited a new book called Tampa Bay Noir, an anthology featuring short noir fiction set in the Florida city.

Carlos Lozada, a winner of the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing and the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism, has written his first book. What Were We Thinking: A Brief Intellectual History of the Trump Era will be published by Simon & Schuster on Oct. 6.

Photo of responsible library lion by Anthony Quintano via Flickr / CC BY 2.0.

SEND US YOUR STUFF: 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.