Critical Notes

New reviews and more from NBCC members

By Michael Schaub

Our members have been keeping busy this fall, writing reviews of books by authors like Meena Kandasamy, Bryan Washington, Nicole Krauss, Martha S. Jones, Graham Swift and more, and interviewing writers like Jess Walter and Juan Felipe Herrera. We hope you’re having a great month, and as always, thanks for reading!

Member Reviews/Essays

Marjoleine Kars reviewed Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote, and Insisted on Equality for All by Martha S. Jones for The Washington Post.

NBCC Emerging Critic Miranda Cooper wrote about Yishai Sarid’s The Memory Monster (translated by Yardenne Greenspan) and Jean-Claude Grumberg’s The Most Precious of Cargoes (translated by Frank Wynne) for the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Ben Yagoda reviewed An Aristocracy of Critics: Luce, Hutchins, Niebuhr, and the Committee That Redefined Freedom of the Press by Stephen Bates for The Wall Street Journal.

Jenny Bhatt reviewed Meena Kandasamy’s Exquisite Cadavers for NPR.

Steven G. Kellman, a former NBCC board member and winner of the NBCC Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing, reviewed Małgorzata Szejnert’s Ellis Island: A People’s History for the Forward.

Peggy Kurkowski reviewed The Quiet Americans: Four CIA Spies at the Dawn of the Cold War—A Tragedy in Three Acts by Scott Anderson for The BookBrowse Review.

Heather Scott Partington reviewed Seth Greenland’s A Kingdom of Tender Colors for Alta.

Jeffrey Mannix reviewed Dear Child by Romy Hausmann for his Murder Ink column in the Durango Telegraph, covering Colorado and the the vast Four Corners of the Southwest.

Charles Green reviewed Bryan Washington’s Memorial for Lambda Literary Review and Marc David Baer’s German, Jew, Muslim, Gay: The Life and Times of Hugo Marcus for The Gay & Lesbian Review.

Grace Lichtenstein reviewed Jess Walter’s The Cold Millions for BookPage.

Erik Gleibermann reviewed Ed Pavlić’s Let It Be Broke for the Kenyon Review

Kathleen Rooney reviewed Riva Lehrer’s Golem Girl for the Star Tribune.

Chris Adamson reviewed recent books of poetry by Paige Ackerson-Kiely, Dionne Brand, Katie Ford, and Miller Oberman for the journal West Branch.

Michelle Newby Lancaster reviewed Aaron Gwyn’s All God’s Children for Lone Star Literary Life.

Martha Anne Toll reviewed Robert D. Putnam and Shaylyn Romney Garrett’s The Upswing for NPR.

Oline H. Cogdill reviewed The Law of Innocence by Michael Connelly for the Sun Sentinel and other publications. 

Priscilla Gilman reviewed To Be A Man by Nicole Krauss for The Boston Globe.

Dana Wilde reviewed The Guest Book by Sarah Blake and The Other Mrs. by Mary Kubica for The Working Waterfront.

Ron Slate reviewed Grieving by Cristina Rivera Garza and Forgetting by Gabriel Josipovici for On The Seawall.

Robert Allen Papinchak reviewed Maggie Doherty’s The Equivalents: A Story of Art, Female Friendship, and Liberation in the 1960s for On the Seawall and Graham Swift’s Here We Are for the Washington Independent Review of Books.

W. Scott Olsen’s essay (with images) about touring an abandoned missile silo for sale appeared at

Kevin Blankinship reviewed The Book of Charlatans, a 13th-century Arabic guide to the Islamic underworld, for The Spectator.

Jeremy Lybarger reviewed Castle Faggot by Derek McCormack for 4Columns.

Member Interviews

Grace Lichtenstein interviewed Jess Walter for BookPage.

David Nilsen interviewed former U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera about his collection Every Day We Get More Illegal for On the Seawall.

W. Scott Olsen talked to Sharon Williams on the Frames podcast.

Member News, Etc.

Kevin Blankinship appeared on Words are Bridges, a digital series through the Jaipur Literature Festival, in conversation with translator Michael Cooperson to discuss Impostures, a 12th-century collection of Arabic rogue tales.

Hélène Cardona was awarded the iWoman Global Award in Literature. Due to the pandemic, the award ceremony will take place on Sept. 23, 2021 in New Delhi, India, in the presence of the Women & Child Development Minister of India and 20 ambassadors from various countries. Also, Hélène’s poetry collection Life in Suspension (Salmon Poetry) is a 2020 New York City Big Book Award Distinguished Favorite.

Anita Felicelli’s short story “Time Invents Us” was published by Alta.

Photo of the Library of Congress, illuminated in purple and gold in honor of the Women’s Vote Centennial, by Angela N. 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.