Critical Notes

New reviews and more from NBCC members

By Michael Schaub

Members and friends, just a reminder that the deadline to apply for the NBCC’s Emerging Critics Fellowship is this Friday, May 21. 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. Critics of color, LGBTQIA+ critics, critics with disabilities, and critics from historically marginalized communities are especially encouraged to apply. More information about the fellowship, including a link to apply, can be found here!

Member Reviews/Essays

Elias Rodriques reviewed Richard Wright’s The Man Who Lived Undergroundfor The Nation.

Marian Perales reviewed Carribean Fragoza’s Eat the Mouth That Feeds You for the Latino Book Review.

Colin Asher reviewed Richard Wright’s The Man Who Loved Undergroundfor The New Republic and Hanif Abdurraqib’s A Little Devil in Americafor the Washington Independent Review of Books.

NBCC Vice President/Fundraising Anita Felicelli reviewed Brenda Peynado’s The Rock Eatersfor the San Francisco Chronicle, and wrote about new and forthcoming books by writers from the Indian diaspora for Electric Lit.

Gina Frangello reviewed Melissa Febos’ Girlhoodfor the Los Angeles Review of Books, and her essay “How to Land” was published in Air/Light.

Sarah Boxer reviewed Jon Klassen’s The Rock From the Skyfor The New York Times Book Review.

Former NBCC Vice President/Awards Jan Harayda wrote about the narrative structure and other underappreciated aspects of Where the Wild Things Are in “The Genius of Maurice Sendak” on Medium.

Laura Spence-Ash wrote about the use of setting in Evie Wyld’s The Bass Rock for the Ploughshares blog.

Daneet Steffens reviewed The Window Seat by Aminatta Forna for The Boston Globe.

Paul Wilner reviewed Martin J. Smith’s Going To Trinidad: A Doctor, a Colorado Town and Stories from an Unlikely Gender Crossroads, for Alta Journal.

Ellen Prentiss Campbell’s essay “Resonant Places” was published at Cleaver.

Lanie Tankard reviewed Meg Remy’s Begin by Telling for The Woven Tale Press.

Hamilton Cain reviewed Will Leitch’s How Luckyfor The Washington Post.

Natalia Holtzman reviewed Anne F. Garréta’s In Concrete, translated by Emma Ramadan, for On the Seawall.

Julia M. Klein reviewed Selma van de Perre’s My Name is Selma for the Forward.

Oline H. Cogdill reviewed Trail of Lies by Kylie Logan for Shelf Awareness.

Chris Barsanti wrote a roundup of four new graphic books for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Jeffrey Mannix reviewed The Measure of Time by Gianrico Carofliglio for his Murder Ink column in the Durango Telegraph, covering southwest Colorado and the vast Four Corners of the Southwest.

Heller McAlpin reviewed Rachel Cusk’s new novel, Second Place, for NPR, and Alison Bechdel’s new graphic memoir,The Secret to Superhuman Strength, and two new cookbooks for The Christian Science Monitor.

Eric Liebetrau wrote about Black Privilege Publishing, the new Atria imprint, for Kirkus Reviews.

Paul W. Gleason published a review essay on John Gray’s career and latest book, Feline Philosophy. It appeared in his newsletter Unfamiliar Letters.

Carol Iaciofano Aucoin reviewed Chris Bojalian’s Hour of the Witch for WBUR’s The ARTery.

Fran Hawthorne reviewed Jessica Anya Blau’s Mary Janefor the New York Journal of Books.

Sarah Johnson reviewed Chris Bohjalian’s Hour of the Witch, Denny S. Bryce’s Wild Women and the Blues, and Maggie Shipstead’s Great Circle for the The Historical Novels Review.

Meg Waite Clayton‘sMay Bay City Books column for Local News Matters includes books by Mira Sethi, Lara Bazelon, Joan Steinau Lester, Catherine Wolff, poet Michael McClure, and more.

Tim Riley wrote “The Darwin of the Classics,” a review of Robert Kanigel’s Milman Parry biography, told with “inspired calm,” for the Los Angeles Review of Books.

NBCC Vice President/Online and Biography Chair Michael Schaub reviewed Daniel James Brown’s Facing the Mountainfor NPR.

Member Interviews

NBCC Vice President/Fundraising Anita Felicelli interviewed former NBCC board member Anjali Enjeti on activism and her two debut books for Catapult.

Shoba Viswanathan interviewed former NBCC board member Anjali Enjetifor Bloom.

Grant Faulkner interviewed Carol Edgarian on the theme of displacement, Hala Alyan on writing about place, and Paula McClain on trauma as stigma and inspiration, for the Write-minded podcast.

Former NBCC President Tom Beer spoke with Claudio Lomnitz about Nuestra América: My Family in the Vertigo of Translation for Kirkus Reviews.

Member News, Etc.

Meg Waite Clayton‘s The Postmistress of Paris will be published by Harper Books on Nov. 30 in the US and Canada, and in translation into Spanish, Italian, Dutch, and more. She’d be grateful for galley requests through NetGalley and Edelweiss, or email and she can connect you with her publicist.

Gina Frangello’s debut memoir, Blow Your House Down: A Story of Family, Feminism, and Treason, is a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice, and got starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and BookPage. Gina was interviewed about her book by Bitch Media.

Jason Berry‘s documentary, City of a Million Dreams, based on his 2018 New Orleans history of the same title, had its first screening at the Sarasota Film Festival, and a review in The Daily Beast.

NBCC board member Rod Davis was featured in a profile review from the blog of his acclaimed indie publisher NewSouth Books for his New Orleans- and South-based fiction and for his reviews. The piece also includes shout-outs to the NBCC and CrimeReads.

Susan Henderson, a lifetime member of the NBCC, will talk about writing during the pandemic with bestselling author Caroline Leavitt and poet Harriet Shenkman on Monday, May 24, at 7:00 pm Eastern. The event is sponsored by the Chappaqua Library, and you can register here

Susan also did a reading and Q&A for the Virtual Fridays Dire Literary Series, and you can watch the YouTube of it here. Coming soon: a conversation between Susan and Wayetu Moore about the importance of literary friendship, hosted by Andrew Tonkovich. 

In Literary Hub, John Domini has a long piece on living with the Neapolitan mafia, adapted from his new memoir, The Archeology of a Good Ragù: Discovering Naples, My Father, & Myself.

Ellen Prentiss Campbell’s novel Frieda’s Songwill be published by Apprentice House Press on May 25.

Colin Marshall’s interview with NBCC member Gail Pool about her book, Faint Praise: The Plight of Book Reviewing in America, has been posted on YouTube.

Partner News

NBCC publication member Rain Taxi is hosting a virtual event with Charles Bernstein, author of the new poetry collection Topsy-Turvy, in conversation with fellow poet Tonya M. Foster, on Tuesday, May 18, at 5:30 pm Central. You can register for this free event here.

Photo of Honesty Bookshop in Hay-on-Wye, Wales, by Christian Köberl 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.