Critical Notes

New reviews and more from NBCC members

By Michael Schaub

Member Reviews/Essays

Meredith Maran reviewed Kirstin Valdez Quade’s The Five Woundsfor the Los Angeles Times.

Rafael Castillo wrote about the faux “border crisis” for the San Antonio Express-News.

Marianne Szegedy-Maszak reviewed Hunter Biden’s Beautiful Thingsfor The Washington Post.

Former NBCC president Laurie Hertzel reviewed Raynor Winn’s memoir The Wild Silence, a sequel to her wonderful The Salt Path, for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. She also wrote about Mary Bly’s new novel—the first under her own name—and how it turns on the hammock poem of James Wright.

Lanie Tankard reviewed Against the Loveless World by Susan Abulhawa for the Spring issue of World Literature Today.

Jeffrey Mannix reviewed Never Far Away by Michael Koryta for his Murder Ink column in the Durango Telegraph, covering southwest Colorado and the vast Four Corners of the Southwest.

Dana Wilde reviewed Stephen King’s Laterin his Off Radar column for the Central Maine newspapers and Didn’t Do Much but a Little of Everything: The 1897 Eagle Island Diary of Dalton Raynes, edited by Ian Ludders, for The Working Waterfront, and wrote about the strange nature of horseshoe crabs for Island Journal.

Oline H. Cogdill reviewed Who Is Maud Dixon? by Alexandra Andrews for the Sun Sentinel and other venues.

Hamilton Cain reviewed Haruki Murakami’s First Person Singularfor Oprah Daily and Kirstin Valdez Quade’s The Five Woundsfor the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Kali Lightfoot reviewed Derek Sheffield’s Not for Luckfor Broadsided Press.

Kate Dwyer wrote about the rise of celebrity Instagram book clubs for The New York Times.

NBCC Vice President/Online Michael Schaub reviewed Blake Bailey’s Philip Roth: The Biographyfor The Boston Globe and Jonathan Meiburg’s A Most Remarkable Creaturefor the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Patricia Schultheisessay “Mort’s Pen” was published in the March 24 edition of The RavensPerch.

Jim Delmont reviewed Michael Farris Smith’s Nickfor the Omaha Dispatch.

Ethan Chatagnier reviewed J. Robert Lennon’s Subdivisionfor On the Seawall.

Member Interviews

NBCC President David Varno wrote a profile of Brandon Taylor, whose collection Filthy Animals is out in June, for Publishers Weekly.

Grant Faulkner interviewed Kim Addonizio about how she’s not a confessional poet, and also interviewed Louis Chude-Sokei about his new memoir on the Write-minded podcast. 

Kate Dwyer interviewed Megan Nolan about Acts of Desperationfor Hazlitt.

For her Literary Hub column, NBCC Vice President/Events Jane Ciabattari spoke with Imbolo Mbue about about the postcolonial greed of the oil industry and what it was like to write her novel How Beautiful We Were mostly from the point of view of the children of the village. “The tragedies in Sandy Hook and Flint had…deeply affected me and I wanted to explore what it was like to be a child struggling to make sense of a world in which people in power appear to be so much at ease with sacrificing them.” Jane also talked to Gabriela Garcia about her first novel, Of Women and Salt, which centers on multiple generations of mothers and daughters, from a female worker in a 19th-century Cuban cigar factory to her great-granddaughter in modern-day Miami.

Former NBCC President Tom Beer interviewed Kaitlyn Greenidge about her new novel, Libertie, for Kirkus Reviews.

Paul Wilner interviewed Rachel Kushner about her new essay collection, The Hard Crowd, and Vendela Vida about her latest novel, We Run The Tides, for the Nob Hill Gazette.

Member News, Etc.

2020 NBCC biography chair Elizabeth Taylor gathered fellow board members Diego Báez (poetry committee), Jane Ciabattari (fiction chair), J. Howard Rosier (criticism chair), Harriet Washington (nonfiction chair), and Marion Winik (autobiography chair) to talk about this year’s NBCC Award winners virtually at The Book Cellar in Chicago. You can watch a video of the event here.

Kali Lightfoot’s Pelted by Flowers is onLambda Literary’s April list of Most Anticipated LGBTQ Books.

Randall Mann’s new poetry collection, A Better Life, will be published Tuesday, April 6, by Persea Books.

NBCC partner PEN America will be holding their 2021 Literary Awards ceremony this Thursday, April 8, at 7:00 pm Eastern. You can reserve a free ticket to the event here.

In Memoriam

The National Book Critics Circle mourns the loss of Morris Dickstein, a former NBCC board member and the author of several books including Gates of Eden: American Culture in the Sixties and Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression, who died on March 24. Our thoughts are with his wife, Lore Willner Dickstein, and his children, Jeremy Dickstein and Rachel Dickstein.

Photo of the Picton Reading Room in Liverpool, England, by Karen 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.