Critical Notes

New reviews and more from NBCC members

By Michael Schaub

The NBCC will be celebrating the winners of our 2019 awards, and announcing the finalists for our 2020 awards, next month! We’d love it if you could join us at our online celebration on Jan. 24, 2021, at 7 p.m. EST. If you’re interested in attending, please RSVP here — we’re looking forward to seeing all of you (virtually). In the meantime, thanks for reading, and please stay warm and stay safe!

Member Reviews/Essays

Clifford Garstang reviewed Randall Kenan’s If I Had Two Wings for the Southern Review of Books.

Former NBCC board member Mark Athitakis reviewed Eric Burns’ 1957: The Year That Launched the American Future for Air Mail.

Erika Dreifus wrote about Kathrine Kressmann Taylor’s “Address Unknown” for The American Scholar.

Jeffrey Mannix reviewed The Searcher by Tana French, The Reflecting Pool by Otho Eskin and Murder Maps: Crime Scenes Revisited by Dr. Drew Gray for his Murder Ink column in the Durango Telegraph, covering Colorado and the Four Corners of the Southwest.

Former NBCC board member Kerri Arsenault reviewed Jonathan Slaght’s Owls of the Eastern Ice for Air Mail. 

Hamilton Cain reviewed Katherine May’s Wintering for the Star Tribune.

Jonathan Marks reviewed Kenneth Stern’s The Conflict Over the Conflict for Minding the Campus.

Lanie Tankard reviewed Red Ants by Pergentino José for The Woven Tale Press.

Anne Charles reviewed Diana Souhami’s No Modernism Without Lesbians for Lambda Literary.

Anri Wheeler reviewed Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s World of Wonders for Hippocampus Magazine.

NBCC Vice President/Online Michael Schaub reviewed Paul Farmer’s Fevers, Feuds, and Diamonds: Ebola and the Ravages of History for the Star Tribune.

Laura Sandonato reviewed Matthew de Lacey Davison’s The Worst Dogs for Picking Books.

Fran Hawthorne reviewed Irmgard Keun’s Ferdinand: The Man With the Kind Heart for the New York Journal of Books.

Julia M. Klein reviewed Gabrielle Glaser’s American Baby for Stanford Magazine.

Martha Anne Toll published a piece called “Sibling Transgressions and the Surrender of Language: Sulaiman Addonia and Aharon Appelfeld” in Triangle House Review.

Helen Mitsios reviewed Van Eyck, edited by Maximiliaan Martens, Till-Holger Borchert, Jan Dumolyn, Johan De Smet, and Frederica Van Dam, for Wonderlust.

Member Interviews

For her bookstore’s “Interabang Chats” series, NBCC board member Lori Feathers interviewed Chelsea G. Summers about her debut novel A Certain Hunger, and Nanci McCloskey, associate publisher and director of marketing at Tin House regarding her publishing house’s reissue of the South African novel Agaat and the forthcoming books in 2021.

NBCC President David Varno profiled Sarah Moss, author of the forthcoming Summerwater, for Publishers Weekly.

Helen Mitsios interviewed Julia Abramoff for Wonderlust.

Anne Charles interviewed editors/publishers Sara Duell, Florencia Alvarado and Jeanette Spicer on the cable access show All Things LGBTQ, in which they discussed their new publication WMN Zine.

Member News, Etc.

Sarah Ladipo Manyika is one of the “tastemakers” for Fable, a new books platform. Her first curation is around a list of books on the black experience historically and presently, including Toni Morrison’s Home, James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, and Ernest Gaines’ A Lesson Before Dying. Sarah has also been nominated as a fellow of the British Royal Society of the Arts, and has been elected as the incoming Board President for the women’s writing retreat Hedgebrook, starting in January.

Former NBCC board member Kerri Arsenault’s book Mill Town was selected as an Editor’s Choice in The New York Times, one of the Best Nonfiction Books of 2020 by Publishers Weekly, one of the Best Social Science Books of 2020 by Barnes & Noble, one of the Best Nonfiction Books of 2020 by Kirkus Reviews, and one of 10 Best Books of 2020 by the Chicago Tribune. Mill Town was also recently reviewed by the Center for Humans & Nature, and Kerri was interviewed at the Washington Independent Review of Books.

Jonathan Marks’ book, Let’s Be Reasonable: A Conservative Case for Liberal Education, will be published by Princeton University Press on Feb. 9, 2021.

Helen Mitsios’ book The Grand Tour was published on Nov. 5.

Conie Post’s book Prime Meridian was named a finalist for the American Book Fest Best Book Award in Poetry.

Nathaniel Popkin’s book To Reach the Spring: From Complicity to Consciousness in the Age of Eco-Crisis was published on Dec. 1 by New Door Books, and was reviewed by Publishers Weekly. Nathaniel was interviewed by Deborah Kalb on her blog about the book.

Photo of card catalog at the Library of Congress by Rich Renomeron via Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 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.