Critical Notes

New reviews and more from NBCC members

By Michael Schaub

Members and friends, we hope you’re having a good spring so far! Our members have been keeping busy recently with reviews of books by authors such as Monica West, Julie Metz, Jim Shepard, Lawrence Wright, and more, and interviewing writers including Marisa Silver, John Edgar Wideman, and Claire Fuller. Stay safe, and as always, thanks for reading!

Member Reviews/Essays

Hamilton Cain reviewed Monica West’s Revival Seasonfor The New York Times Book Review.

Hannah Joyner reviewed Ann McCutchan’s The Life She Wished to Live: A Biography of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings for Deep South Magazine, and Emily Midorikawa’s Out of the Shadows: Six Visionary Victorian Women in Search of a Public Voice for the May-June print edition of the Women’s Review of Books.

Former NBCC board member Steven G. Kellman, a winner of the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing, reviewed Julie Metz’s Eva and Evefor the Forward.

Wayne Catan reviewed Goliarda Sapienza’s Meeting in Positano, translated by Brian Robert Moore, for On The Seawall

Heller McAlpin reviewed Steve Rowley’s The Guncle for The Christian Science Monitor.

Sarah McCraw Crow reviewed Sean Flynn’s memoir Why Peacocks? and Trent Preszler’s memoir Little and Often for BookPage.

Diane Scharper reviewed Douglas Stuart’s Shuggie Bainfor Commonweal.

Peggy Kurkowski reviewed Jean Hanff Korelitz’s The Plotfor The BookBrowse Review.

Judy Reveal reviewed several books for the New York Journal of Books, including The Devil May Dance by Jake Tapper. The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz, An Unlikely Spy by Rebecca Starford, Reserved for Murder by Victoria Gilbert, and Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid.

Theodore Kinni reviewed Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony, and Cass R. Sunstein’s Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgmentfor strategy+business.

Ethan Chatagnier reviewed Jim Shepard’s Phase Sixfor the Chicago Review of Books.

Kevin Blankinship wrote an essay about the pre-Islamic “hanging odes” (mu`allaqat) of Mecca and their translation history in the West for Newlines Magazine.

Tony Miksanek reviewed The Plague Year: America in the Time of Covid by Lawrence Wright for Booklist magazine. It was featured as the “Review of the Day” on May 28.

Member Interviews

Sebastian Stockman interviewed Annie Hartnett about her debut novel, Rabbit Cake, and her forthcoming Unlikely Animals for his newsletter series “How Do You Finish A Book?”

Julia M. Klein interviewed Suzanne Koven about Letter to a Young Female Physician for Johns Hopkins Magazine.

Hamilton Cain interviewed John Edgar Wideman for Oprah Daily.

NBCC board member Lori Feathers and her co-host Sam Jordison talked to author Claire Fuller about her latest novel, Unsettled Ground, for their podcast Across the Pond.

“The last thing I want to do in my writing life is repeat myself.” Marisa Silver talked to NBCC Vice President/Events Jane Ciabattari about pivoting to surrealism with her new novel, The Mysteries, for Literary Hub.

Member News, Etc.

Former NBCC board member Kerri Arsenault’s book Mill Town: Reckoning with What Remains won the Maine Literary Award for nonfiction, and has also been chosen for the statewide summer program, Read ME, in collaboration with the Maine Humanities Council in partnership with the Maine State Library. The program kicks off on June 4, at 11:00 am Eastern, on Maine NPR’s radio show, Maine Calling

Mary Jo Bang‘s translation of Dante’s Purgatorio will be published by Graywolf Press on July 13. For galley requests, email Morgan LaRocca at Graywolf:   

Sebastian Stockman appeared on the podcast Better Read Than Dead: Literature from a Left Perspective to discuss the Janet Malcolm classic, The Journalist and the Murderer.

Ellen Prentiss Campbell’s new book, Frieda’s Song, was reviewed at the Washington Independent Review of Books.

Partner News

Our partners at the Bay Area Book Festival are hosting a virtual event with Booker Award-winning author Richard Flanagan in conversation with Jane Hirshfield on Thursday, June 3, at 7:00 pm Pacific. You can get tickets here.

Our partners at City Lights will host a special event on Thursday, June 3, at 9:00 pm Eastern to celebrate the 85th birthday of New Directions Publishing, with Will Alexander, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Susan Howe, Sylvia Legris, Nathaniel Mackey, Michael Palmer, Nathaniel Tarn, Eliot Weinberger, and master of ceremonies, Forrest Gander. You can save the date and register here.

NBCC publication member Rain Taxi is hosting a virtual event with Curtis Sittenfeld in conversation with former Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges, on Tuesday, June 1, at 5:30 pm Central. You can register for this free event here.

Our partners at the Community of Literary Magazines and Presses are hosting their seventh annual Firecracker Awards on Wednesday, June 23, at 7:00 pm Eastern. The ceremony, hosted by NBCC partners Center for Fiction, will be a recognition of the books and magazines that make a significant contribution to our literary culture and the publishers that strive to introduce important voices to readers far and wide.

Photo of Bookman’s Corner in Chicago by Matt Stratton via Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 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.