Critical Notes

New reviews and more from NBCC members

By Michael Schaub

We hope you’re all having a great October so far! This week, our members have reviews of books by Rumaan Alam, Phil Klay, Laura van den Berg, Scott O’Connor and more, as well as interviews with authors like Sophia Chang, Deborah Tannen and NBCC member Carlos Lozada. If you’re a member who’d like to be featured in a future edition of Critical Notes, remember to send us your links to Thanks for reading, and stay safe!

Member Reviews/Essays

Mary Ann Gwinn reviewed Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam for the Los Angeles Times.

Roxana Robinson wrote about meeting Georgia O’Keeffe for The New Yorker.

NBCC board member Colette Bancroft reviewed Phil Klay’s Missionaries for the Tampa Bay Times.

Hamilton Cain reviewed M. Randal O’Wain’s Hallelujah Station and Other Stories for Chapter 16.

Carolyn Kellogg grappled with Don DeLillo’s legacy and previewed his upcoming novel, The Silence, with the help of Rachel Kushner, Jonathan Lethem, Dana Spiotta and Joe Salvatore, for the Los Angeles Times. And for the Tournament of Books’ Super Rooster matchup, she judged Cormac McCarthy’s The Road versus Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.

Bean Gilsdorf reviewed Guerrilla Girls: The Art of Behaving Badly by the Guerrilla Girls for Another Chicago Magazine.

Paul Wilner reviewed Scott O’Connor’s Zero Zone for ZYZZYVA.

Anita Felicelli reviewed Laura van den Berg’s I Hold a Wolf by the Ears for the Los Angeles Review of Books and Jess Walter’s The Cold Millions for the San Francisco Chronicle.

Kali Lightfoot reviewed Gabriel Welsch’s poetry collection The Death of Flying Things for Broadsided Press.

Meg Waite Clayton covered new books by San Francisco Bay Area authors for Bay City Books.

Jeannine Hall Gailey wrote about what to read for your mental health during this pandemic year for Salon.

Walter Uhler reviewed Robert P. Jones’ White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity for OpEdNews.

W. Scott Olsen reviewed Tatsuo Suzuki’s Friction / Tokyo Street for Frames magazine.

Kevin Blankinship reviewed Impostures: Fifty Rogue’s Tales Translated Fifty Ways for Public Books.

Member Interviews

Carolyn Kellogg moderated a conversation between Laila Lalami and Ayad Akhtar about their new books, Conditional Citizens and Homeland Elegies, respectively, and talked to Washington Post nonfiction book critic (and NBCC Nona Balakian Citation winner) Carlos Lozada about his meta-Trump-book book, What Were We Thinking: An Intellectual History of the Trump Era, for the Los Angeles Times.

Lisa Peet interviewed Sophia Chang about her new memoir, The Baddest Bitch in the Room, and lots of other things, for Bloom.

Anne Charles interviewed writer/activist Martha Shelley about her writing life and involvement in the early Gay Liberation Front.

Julia M. Klein interviewed Deborah Tannen about her memoir, Finding My Father, for California Magazine.

Member News, Etc.

Joan Gelfand’s debut novel Extreme was featured on Moira Gunn’s NPR show Tech Nation. The novel, set in a Silicon Valley gaming startup that is building an app for extreme sports, has received coverage on WUSA-TV (DC), Sports Byline, CEO World, The Hollywood Times, Splash Magazines, The Oregonian, and other blogs and magazines. Extreme was also a Kindle Pick of the week.

Richard Scott Larson has been named a 2020 NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellow in Nonfiction Literature from the New York Foundation for the Arts.

Susan Henderson, a lifetime member of the NBCC, had her essay from the AloneTogether anthology excerpted in Issue 2 of 1455’s Movable Type. You can download Issue 2, titled “Finding Community During COVID-19,” here for free.

Sheri J. Caplan‘s second book, Old Enough: How 18-Year-Olds Won the Vote & Why It Matters, was released on Sept. 4. A portion of proceeds will be donated to several non-partisan voting rights groups, and a pay-what-you-wish PDF is available so that any interested reader can have access.

NBCC board member Rod Davis appeared Oct. 4 on a “Mystery” conversation panel at the Southern Festival of Books with author W.M. Akers (Westside Saints) to discuss writing and his new novel, East of Texas, West of Hell.

Abby Frucht‘s Maids was reviewed by Wisconsin Poet Laureate Karla Huston for Wisconsin People & Ideas magazine.

Photo by Alexandre Duret-Lutz via Flickr / CC BY-SA 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.