Critical Notes

New reviews and more from NBCC members

By Michael Schaub


with the night falling we are saying thank you

we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings

we are running out of the glass rooms

with our mouths full of food to look at the sky

and say thank you

we are standing by the water thanking it

standing by the windows looking out

in our directions”

—W.S. Merwin, “Thanks”

Member Reviews/Essays

Barbara J. King reviewed Paul Farmer’s Fever, Feuds and Diamonds: Ebola and the Ravages of History for NPR.

Ron Slate reviewed Ralph Dutli’s Soutine’s Last Journey, translated by Katharina Rout, for On The Seawall.

Sophie Pinkham reviewed Paek Nam-nyong’s Friend, the first state-approved North Korean novel to be published in English, for The New York Review of Books.

Former NBCC President Laurie Hertzel reviewed Rachel Joyce’s Miss Benson’s Beetle for the Star Tribune.

Hamilton Cain reviewed Hilary Holladay’s The Power of Adrienne Rich for the Star Tribune, and covered titles by Ayad Akhtar, Heather Clark, Danielle Evans, Margot Livesey, Samanta Schweblin, Zadie Smith, and Jess Walter for O, the Oprah Magazine‘s Best Books of 2020.

Fran Bigman reviewed Christa Parravani‘s Loved and Wanted for The Boston Globe.

Kevin O’Kelly reviewed Mark O’Connell’s Notes From an Apocalypse for the Harvard Review.

Grace Lichtenstein reviewed Little Threats by Emily Schultz for BookPage.

Rebecca Kightlinger reviewed Rebecca Beanland’s Florence Adler Swims Forever for the Historical Novel Society.

Carlos Lozada, a winner of the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing and the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism, reviewed Barack Obama’s A Promised Land for The Washington Post.

Julia M. Klein reviewed Hilary Holladay’s The Power of Adrienne Rich for The Boston Globe.

W. Scott Olsen reviewed Steve McCurry’s new book of images for Frames, and wrote about the joy of taking pictures with a nifty camera for Fujilove Magazine.

Martha Anne Toll reviewed David Diop’s At Night All Blood Is Black, translated by Anna Moschovakis, for Words Without Borders.

Caleb Curtiss reviewed Karen Green’s Frail Sister in the latest print edition of the Denver Quarterly.

Sarah Boxer reviewed three photography books (on Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, and Russell Lee) for The Atlantic.

Christoph Irmscher reviewed Seb Falk’s The Light Ages: The Surprising Story of Medieval Science for The Wall Street Journal.

Member Interviews

Former NBCC President Laurie Hertzel interviewed Charles Baxter for the Star Tribune.

Patricia Schultheis interviewed Adam Schwartz, the 2020 Washington Writers’ Publishing House fiction award winner, for the Washington Independent Review of Books.

Anne Charles interviewed playwright and novelist Rae Mariah MacCarthy on the cable access show All Things LGBTQ.

Julia M. Klein profiled Phil Klay for the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine.

Member News, Etc.

Megan Harlan’s book Mobile Home: A Memoir in Essays was reviewed at The New York Times Book Review.

Bean Gilsdorf received an Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant.

Rambling Prose: Essays, the latest book from Steven G. Kellman, a former NBCC board member and winner of the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing, was published by Trinity University Press on Nov. 17.

The Feminist Press last week reissued poet Meena Alexander’s memoir Fault Lines to commemorate her passing two years ago. The new edition contains a new afterword by NBCC member Gaiutra Bahadur, in Meena’s memory, titled “A House Full of Women,” and a preface by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o.

Carlos Lozada was in a video conversation with Atlantic writer Anne Applebaum for the Library of Congress’ “National Book Festival Presents” series, discussing their two books, What Were We Thinking and Twilight of Democracy

Erika Dreifus has work included in two new anthologies: an essay, “Before Sunrise,” in The Best of Brevity: Twenty Groundbreaking Years of Flash Nonfiction (Rose Metal Press), and a poem, “The Price of Lilith’s Freedom,” in 101 Jewish Poems for the Third Millennium (Ashland Poetry Press).

Grace Schulman’s The Marble Bed was reviewed by Julie Sheehan in The East Hampton Star.

Cynthia Schwartzberg Edlow has two new poems, “Dried Mangoes” and “Vibe Organic,” in the 11th Anniversary Edition of Live Encounters Poetry & Writing Vol. I. In honor of the journal’s eleventh year, two full volumes of poetry were produced and distinguished by gender: Volume I, Women and Volume II, Men.

Anita Felicelli’s short story “Steam Tunnels” was published in Air/Light magazine. 

Photo by Angy DS 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.