Critical Notes

New reviews and more from NBCC members

By Michael Schaub

Members and friends, the NBCC is now accepting applications for our Emerging Critics Fellowship! The fellowship seeks to identify, nurture, and support the development of the next generation of book critics. Critics of all ages who seek to review and write about books for print and digital outlets are eligible for the fellowship. We’re looking for a broad range of diverse applicants, especially those who have demonstrated a genuine interest and commitment to engaging in a critical conversation about books. More information about the fellowship, including a link to apply, can be found here!

Member Reviews/Essays

Dean Rader and Victoria Chang have begun a monthly collaborative poetry review column for the Los Angeles Review of Books titled “Two Roads.” Their first installment is on G. C. Waldrep’s The Earliest Witnesses.

Rachael Nevins wrote about Why Didn’t You Just Do What You Were Told?, a selection of Jenny Diski’s essays for the London Review of Books now available in the U.S., for the Ploughshares blog.

Sarah D’Stair reviewed Emma Hine’s Stay Safe for The Rupture and Hilary Vaughn Dobel’s The Messerschmidt Poems for The Adroit Journal.

Marian Perales reviewed Felicia Rose Chavez’s The Anti-Racist Writing Workshop for the Latino Book Review.

Jack Sullivan reviewed Music by Max Steiner: The Epic Life of Hollywood’s Most Influential Composer by Steven C. Smith for Classical Voice North America: Journal of the Music Critics Association of North America.

NBCC Vice President/Membership Chelsea Leu wrote an essay for Electric Lit about a course on how to “read better,” self-improvement, and why we read.

Steven G. Kellman, a former NBCC board member and recipient of the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing, reviewed The Passenger, written by Ulrich Alexander Boschwitz and translated by Philip Boehm, for the Forward.

Carlos Lozada, a winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the NBCC Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing, reviewed Louis Menand’s The Free Worldfor The Washington Post.

Christoph Irmscher reviewed Mark Aldridge’s Agatha Christie’s Poirot for The Wall Street Journal. 

Melissa Holbrook Pierson reviewed Of Human Kindness: What Shakespeare Teaches Us About Empathy by Paula Marantz Cohen for The Wall Street Journal.

Anthony Domestico reviewed Cynthia Ozick’s Antiquities for The Boston Globe, and wrote a poetry column for Commonweal featuring Joshua Bennett’s Owed, Dana Gioia’s Studying with Miss Bishop, and Spencer Reece’s The Secret Gospel of Mark.

Laura Spence-Ash wrote critical essays for the Ploughshares blog on Jamel Brinkley’s story “Comfort” and its connection to William Trevor’s “A Day,” and the tradition of storytelling in Maria Kuznetsova’s new novel, Something Unbelievable.

Martha Anne Toll reviewed Cassandra Lane’s We Are Bridges for NPR.

Joseph Peschel reviewed Elizabeth McCracken’s The Souvenir Museumfor The Boston Globe.

Michelle Newby Lancaster reviewed Stacey Swann’s Olympus, Texas, for Lone Star Literary Life.

Jeff Alessandrelli reviewed Queenzenglish.mp3: poetry | philosophy | performativity, edited by Kyoo Lee, for the Colorado Review.

Lisa Guidarini reviewed Paulina Bren’s The Barbizonfor the New York Journal of Books.

Julia M. Klein reviewed Judy Batalion’s The Light of Days for The Boston Globe.

Jim Scott reviewed Les Payne and Tamara Payne’s The Dead Are Arisingfor the Wellington Square Bookshop website.

Member Interviews

Jeff Alessandrelli interviewed Noah Falck for Full Stop.

Marian Perales interviewed Monica West about her debut book, Revival Season, for Publishers Weekly.

Fiona Mozley talks about her new novel, Hot Stew, with NBCC board member Lori Feathers and Sam Jordison on the latest episode of their podcast, Across the Pond.

Martha Anne Toll interviewed Mitchell James Kaplan about his new novel Rhapsody for the Washington Independent Review of Books.

Benjamin Woodard interviewed Melanie Finn about her new novel, The Hare, for Fiction Writers Review.

Partner News

NBCC publication member Rain Taxi is hosting a conversation with authors Kim Todd and Kathryn Nuernberger, focusing on “research, craft, and the many ways to tell a story long swept under the rug,” on Tuesday, April 27, at 5:30 pm Central. You can register for this free event here.

Photo of the Seattle Central Library by brewbooks via Flickr / CC BY-SA 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.