Critical Notes

New reviews and more from NBCC members

By Michael Schaub

Photo courtesy of rocor via Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0.

“But I am the man

And I’ll be there.

And I may cause the lips   

of those who are asleep   

to speak.

And I may make my notebooks   

into sheaves of grass.   

And I may write my own   

eponymous epitaph

instructing the horsemen   

to pass.”

“Autobiography,” Lawrence Ferlinghetti (1919-2021)

Members and friends, we’d like to invite you to a virtual event this Friday, March 5 at 9 p.m. EST, featuring NBCC Award-winning writers Edwidge Danticat and Sarah M. Broom, who will read from their work and engage in a conversation about finding home, their inspiration, research, evolving forms, the unique challenges of writing in these times, the imaginative process that shapes their originality, and what awards mean to writers. The event is part of this year’s AWP, and will be introduced by NBCC Vice President/Awards & Events Jane Ciabattari and moderated by NBCC Vice President/Treasurer Marion Winik. We hope to see you there!

Member Reviews/Essays

Former NBCC President Kate Tuttle reviewed Ellen McGarrahan’s Two Truths and a Lie, Tori Telfer’s Confident Women, and Elle Johnson’s The Officer’s Daughter for The New York Times Book Review.

Carlos Lozada, a winner of the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing and the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism, reviewed Elizabeth Kolbert’s Under a White Sky and Charles Blow’s The Devil You Know for The Washington Post.

April Yee reviewed Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Committed, and wrote about books by Valzhyna Mort, Eduardo C. Corral, and Claudia Rankine for Ploughshares, and wrote about conveying the refugee experience through literature for Electric Lit.

Anita Felicelli reviewed Sonia Faleiro’s The Good Girls: An Ordinary Killing for On the Seawall.

Oline H. Cogdill reviewed Never Far Away by Michael Koryta, The Survivors by Jane Harper and A Fatal Lie by Charles Todd for the Sun Sentinel and other venues.

Marjoleine Kars reviewed Ben Montgomery’s A Shot in the Moonlight: How a Freed Slave and a Confederate Soldier Fought for Justice in the Jim Crow South for The Washington Post.

Fran Bigman reviewed Ellis Island: A People’s History by Małgorzata Szejnert, translated by Sean Gasper Bye, for the TLS.

Hamilton Cain reviewed George Saunders’ A Swim in a Pond in the Rain for O, the Oprah Magazine, Daniel Loedel’s Hades, Argentina, for the Harvard Review, and Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s The Black Church for the Star Tribune.

Rien Fertel wrote about Regina N. Bradley’s OutKast-centric Chronicling Stankonia: The Rise of the Hip-Hop South for the A.V. Club, and wrote an appreciation of Valerie Martin’s 1987 New Orleans-set plague novel, A Recent Martyr, for 64 Parishes.

Former NBCC board member Mark Rotella reviewed Rich Cohen’s Pee Wees for The New York Times Book Review and wrote about meeting Lawrence Ferlinghetti for La Voce di New York.

Michael Bobelian reviewed Jed S. Rakoff’s Why the Innocent Plead Guilty and the Guilty Go Free: And Other Paradoxes of Our Broken Legal System for The Washington Post.

Kathleen Rooney reviewed Naima Coster’s What’s Mine and Yours for the Star Tribune.

Barbara Basbanes reviewed Jack Gets Zapped! by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Greg Pizzoli, for Literary Features Syndicate.

Anthony Domestico reviewed Lauren Oyler’s Fake Accounts for Book Post.

Marnie Mueller reviewed Patrick Chura’s Michael Gold: The People’s Writer for the Peace Corps Worldwide network.

Martha Anne Toll reviewed Matthew Gavin Frank’s Flight of the Diamond Smugglers for NPR.

Fran Hawthorne reviewed Janet Skeslien Charles’ The Paris Library for the New York Journal of Books.

Jeremy Lybarger reviewed Last Call: A True Story of Love, Lust, and Murder in Queer New York by Elon Green for 4Columns.

Member Interviews

Oline H. Cogdill interviewed Walter Mosley for Murder by the Book bookstore in Houston.

Julia M. Klein profiled Jason Karlawish in connection with his book The Problem of Alzheimer’s, and interviewed Noreena Hertz about The Lonely Century, for The Pennsylvania Gazette.

Barbara Basbanes interviewed Latanya Devaughn about her campaign to bring a mobile bookstore to her hometown of the Bronx for Literary Features Syndicate.

Former NBCC President Tom Beer spoke with Kendra Boileau and Rich Johnson, the editors of COVID Chronicles: A Comics Anthology, for Kirkus Reviews

Former NBCC President Laurie Hertzel interviewed this year’s Theodor Seuss Geisel Award winners, Mike Wohnoutka and David LaRochelle, who teamed up on a series of books for young readers. Her interview ran in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, where she is the senior editor for books.

For her Literary Hub column, Vice President/Awards & Events Jane Ciabattari spoke with Te-Ping Chen, a former Wall Street Journal reporter covering China and author of Land of Big Numbers, about her observations of a nation in transition, the aspirational “China Dream” promoted by President Xi Jinping, and telling truth through fiction.   

Member News, Etc.

Sarah Ladipo Manyika is a finalist for the Audie Award in the Narrated by Author category for her first novel, In Dependence.

Grace Schulman was interviewed about her book The Marble Bed at the Best American Poetry website.