Critical Notes / Announcements

New reviews and more from NBCC members

By Michael Schaub

We hope you’re all having a great fall so far! This week, our members have been extremely busy, publishing reviews of authors like E.O. Wilson, Eula Biss, David Leavitt, Aoko Matsuda, Ian Rankin and John Banville. They’ve also interviewed writers including James Patterson, Kwame Alexander, Pamela Redmond, Gish Jen and more. If you’d like your work featured in a future Critical Notes, be sure to email us at Thanks for reading, and stay safe!

Member Reviews/Essays

Martha Anne Toll reviewed Desmond Meade’s Let My People Vote and Tom Zoellner’s The National Road for NPR. She also wrote a personal essay, “Don’t Just Pass ‘Em By,” for Bloom.

Barbara J. King reviewed E.O. Wilson’s Tales From the Ant World for The Washington Post and Meave Leakey’s The Sediments of Time: My Lifelong Search for the Past for Science magazine.

NBCC board member Chelsea Leu reviewed Eula Biss’s Having and Being Had for Guernica.

Alexander C. Kafka reviewed William Souder’s Mad at the World: A Life of John Steinbeck for The Washington Post.

NBCC lifetime member Heller McAlpin reviewed Zach St. George’s The Journey of Trees for The Wall Street Journal, David Leavitt’s Shelter in Place for NPR, and John Birdsall’s The Man Who Ate Too Much for The Christian Science Monitor.

S. Kirk Walsh wrote about in-person readings for Literary Hub.

Hamilton Cain reviewed Heather Clark’s Red Comet for the Star Tribune.

John Kazanjian reviewed Mary South’s You Will Never Be Forgotten for The Rupture.

Debra Cash reviewed William Deresiewicz’s The Death of the Artist for The Arts Fuse, and spoke about arts sustainability before and after the pandemic on the Fuse’s Instagram account.

Elizabeth Block reviewed Where the Wild Ladies Are by Aoko Matsuda, translated by Polly Barton, for The Brooklyn Rail.

Lanie Tankard reviewed Clutter: An Untidy History by NBCC member Jennifer Howard for The Woven Tale Press.

Anna Kasradze reviewed Christiane Vadnais’s Fauna for Full Stop.

Jenny Bhatt wrote three essays for Poets & Writers: one on the craft of revising and retelling folktales and myths; one recommending journal writing as a discipline; and one about music as a gateway to storytelling.

John Domini reviewed two debut collections of short fiction, from small presses, by Jen Fawkes and Chloe N. Clark, for The Brooklyn Rail.

Caroline Tew reviewed Megha Majumdar’s A Burning for the Harvard Review.

Jim Schley wrote about Nobel Prize winner Louise Glück for Seven Days.

Oline H. Cogdill reviewed Ian Rankin’s A Song for the Dark Times, M.E. Browning’s Shadow Ridge, and Elizabeth Hand’s The Book of Lamps and Banners for the Sun Sentinel. The reviews also appeared in other publications.

Bridget Quinn reviewed Mary Garrard’s scholarly and surprisingly witty Artemisia Gentileschi and Feminism in Early Modern Europe, part of the Renaissance Lives series from Reaktion, for Hyperallergic.

Anthony Domestico reviewed John Banville’s Snow for The Boston Globe, and wrote about Nobel Prize winner Louise Glück for Book Post.

Robert Allen Papinchak reviewed Fredrik Backman’s Anxious People for the Washington Independent Review of Books.

Dana Wilde reviewed Enough!: Poems of Resistance and Protest, edited by Claire Millikin and Agnes Bushell, in his Off Radar column for the Central Maine Newspapers.

Member Interviews

Jenny Bhatt was interviewed by Deborah Kalb about Each of Us Killers, and appeared on the Diasporastan podcast discussing South Asianisms and identity labels, especially as they relate to how the media refers to vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris, given her Indian origins. She was also interviewed by Harsimran Gill about how much our jobs shape our identities at Electric Literature.

Tom Beer spoke with James Patterson and Kwame Alexander about their children’s book Becoming Muhammad Ali for Kirkus Reviews

Meredith Maran interviewed Pamela Redmond for the Los Angeles Times, and interviewed Gish Jen for the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Sandy McIntosh has been interviewed about Donald Trump recently by PBS/Frontline, France M6 TV, ZDF Television, and Paris Match.

Oline H. Cogdill interviewed Camilla Läckberg for Mystery Scene.

Member News, Etc.

Martha Anne Toll won the 2020 Petrichor Prize for Finely Crafted Fiction for Three Muses, forthcoming from Regal House Publishing in fall 2022.

Chris Barsanti’s latest book, What Would Keanu Do?: Personal Philosophy and Awe-Inspiring Advice from the Patron Saint of Whoa, was published this month by Media Lab Books.

Jenny Bhatt’s Each of Us Killers was given a starred review at Shelf Awareness by Terry Hong. Jenny also has a literary translation coming out globally with HarperCollins India on Oct.19, a selection of stories by the Gujarati short story pioneer, Dhumketu.

Cynthia Schwartzberg Edlow has a new poem, “Dream Poem of Mother Over and Above Her Kitchen-Skill Capacity,” in the current “Toxic” issue of The Ilanot Review. This poem will be in her third poetry collection, which she is working on now. Her last poetry collection, Horn Section All Day Every Day (Salmon Poetry, 2018) was a 2020 Philip H. McMath Post Publication Award Finalist from the University of Central Arkansas.         

Connie Post’s latest book, Prime Meridian, was reviewed by Debby Bacharach at the Atticus Review.

Susan Henderson, lifetime member of the NBCC, was interviewed by Sean Murphy, executive director of 1455 Literary Arts. Sean timed the interview so Susan had 14 minutes and 55 seconds to answer a handful of questions about books, the writing process, and more.

Photo of the Austrian National Library by Hernán Piñera 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.