Critical Notes

New reviews and more from NBCC members

By Michael Schaub

We’d like to thank you all so much for your support over this past year, and we hope that 2021 is a brighter year for all of us. Please stay warm, stay safe, and as always, thanks so much for reading!

Member Reviews/Essays

Steven G. Kellman, a winner of the NBCC Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing, reviewed Jean-Claude Grumberg’s The Most Precious of Cargoes for Tablet.

Diane Scharper reviewed Waging Peace by Diane Oestreich for the National Catholic Reporter.

Martha Anne Toll contributed a “Year in Reading” column to The Millions.

NBCC Vice President/Treasurer Marion Winik published “Notes from the End of the Year,” her December “Bohemian Rhapsody” column at Baltimore Fishbowl, and reviewed Michelle Gallen’s Big Girl, Small Town for the Star Tribune.

Clea Simon reviewed Nuala O’Connor’s Nora: A Love Story of Nora and James Joyce for The Boston Globe.

Harvey Freedenberg wrote about his 12 favorite books of 2020 in an essay called “Reading Through the Plague Year” for Bookreporter.

Lauren Sarazen reviewed Leslie Brody’s Sometimes You Have to Lie for Air Mail.

In an end-of-year feature on favorite 2020 books, Jim Schley reprised his praise for Elizabeth A.I. Powell’s Atomizer in Seven Days.

Richard Deming wrote an essay about Unconscious Places, a collection of photographs by Thomas Struth, for Psyche.

Oline H. Cogdill reviewed Charles Todd’s A Hanging at Dawn and Gary Phillips’ Matthew Henson and the Ice Temple of Harlem for the Sun Sentinel and other publications, and Halley Sutton’s The Lady Upstairs and Emily Schultz’s Little Threats for Shelf Awareness.

Jennifer Solheim’s essay “From Awareness to Feeling: The Art of Telling,” featuring a critique of Nathacha Appanah’s novel Tropic of Violence, was featured at Fiction Writers Review.

Meryl Natchez’s review of The Selected Letters of John Berryman will appear in the winter issue of The Hudson Review.

Member Interviews

NBCC Vice President/Awards Jane Ciabattari spoke with Jane Smiley about five Zola novels that illuminate the landmarks of Paris, with Jasmine Aimaq about books that reveal the “real” Afghanistan, to Lamorna Ash about books about the sea (including J.M. Synge’s The Aran Islands) and to Katherine May about books about wintering (beginning with Jenny Diski’s Skating to Antarctica)—all for her Literary Hub/Book Marks column. 

Oline H. Cogdill interviewed James Rollins for the winter issue of Mystery Scene magazine.

Joan Silverman interviewed Debra Spark for the Portland Press Herald.

Member News, Etc.

Erika Dreifus‘s poem “Fighting Words” was featured on Verse Daily on Thursday, Dec. 24. “Fighting Words” appears in Erika’s collection Birthright: Poems (Kelsay Books) and was initially published in The Hollins Critic.

Clea Simon’s pandemic-related short story “The Inside Job” has been included in the MASTHEAD: The Best New England Crime Stories anthology, now out from Level Best Books.

Meryl Natchez’s book of poems, Catwalk, was named a Kirkus Best Indie Book of 2020.

NBCC Vice President/Online Michael Schaub’s NPR review of Bryan Washington’s Memorial was named one of the ten best book reviews of the year by Adam Morgan at Literary Hub.

Photo of Orpington Library by Ollie Andrews/Libraries Taskforce via Flickr / CC BY 2.0.