Critical Notes

New reviews and more from NBCC members

By Michael Schaub

Members and friends, our board is putting together a new guide with tips on how to be a successful book reviewer. We’d really like to hear from you! Please share advice drawn from your careers in book criticism via this survey, and we’ll incorporate it into the document. We’re also working on creating and compiling pitch guides for various literary outlets. If you’re an editor at a publication, we would love it if you filled out this survey—and feel free to share it with editors you know, as well. Thanks so much, and as always, thanks for reading!

Member Reviews/Essays

Gaiutra Bahadur wrote an essay for Tne Nation about Karla Cornejo Villavicencio’s experiment with magical journalism in The Undocumented Americans. Cornejo Villavicencio goes beyond conventional reportage to mirror the surreal ways in which the undocumented experience their lives.

Jake Cline reviewed Richard Flanagan’s The Living Sea of Waking Dreamsfor The Washington Post.

Rochelle Spencer‘s review of Courttia Newland’s A River Called Time appears in Third Stone, the first literary journal “dedicated to Afrofuturism and other modes of the Black Fantastic.”

Julian Lucas reviewed Clint Smith’s How the Word Is Passedfor The New York Times Book Review.

For Art in America’s New Talent issue, NBCC board member J. Howard Rosier reviewed Black Futures, an anthology edited by Jenna Wortham and Kimberly Drew

Carlos Lozada, a winner of the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing and the Pulitzer Prize, reviewed Lawrence Wright’s The Plague Yearfor The Washington Post.

NBCC Vice President/Secretary Colette Bancroft reviewed Mieko Kawakami’s Heaven, translated by Sam Bett and David Boyd, for the Tampa Bay Times.

Jeffrey Mannix reviewed Alexandra Andrews’ Who Is Maud Dixon? for his “Murder Ink” column in the Durango Telegraph, covering southwest Colorado and the vast Four Corners of the Southwest.

NBCC Vice President/Fundraising Anita Felicelli reviewed Sanjena Sathian’s novel Gold Diggers for the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Barbara Spindel reviewed Kenneth Whyte’s The Sack of Detroit for The Wall Street Journal and Akhil Reed Amar’s The Words that Made Us for The Christian Science Monitor

Paula L. Woods wrote a column about four debut mysteries, including Zakiya Dalila Harris’ standout The Other Black Girl, for the Los Angeles Times.

Allen Barra wrote about the work of Marilynne Robinson in The National Book Review.

Martha Anne Toll reviewed Clint Smith’s How the Word Is Passedfor The Washington Post.

Lynnell Edwards reviewed makalani bandele’s under the aegis of a winged mindfor Good River Review.

Anne Charles reviewed Troy X. Saxby’s Pauli Murray: A Personal and Political Lifefor The Gay & Lesbian Review.

Hamilton Cain reviewed Lawrence Wright’s The Plague Yearfor the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Grace Lichtenstein reviewed The Thousand Crimes of Ming Tsu by Tom Lin for BookPage.

Jeremy Lybarger reviewed To Write As If Already Dead by Kate Zambreno for 4Columns. 

Charles Green reviewed William Peace’s Granduncle Bertie for Blueink Review and Mouths of Rain: An Anthology of Black Lesbian Thought, edited by Briona Simone Jones, for Lambda Literary Review.

Donna Miscolta wrote an essay on how the works of Alberto Ríos speak to each other for Poetry Northwest.

Oline H. Cogdill reviewed The Lost Village by Camilla Sten and Dead of Winter by Stephen Mack Jones and Bitterroot Lake by Alicia Beckman for the Sun Sentinel, and reviewed The Hunting Wives by May Cobb, Palace of the Drowned by Christine Mangan, and You Will Remember Me by Hannah Mary McKinnon for Shelf Awareness.

Dana Wilde reviewed Gregory Brown’s novel The Lowering Days in his Off Radar column for the Central Maine newspapers.

Member Interviews

NBCC board member Adam Dalva interviewed Alexandra Kleeman for Publishers Weekly.

Martha Anne Toll interviewed Maisy Card for Bloom.

Paul Wilner spoke with Michael Lewis about The Premonition: A Pandemic Story and interviewed Jasmin Darznik about The Bohemians, her roman à clef about Dorothea Lange and her San Francisco circle, for the Nob Hill Gazette.

Oline H. Cogdill interviewed Nick Petrie, author of The Breaker, for the Authors Live! event for the Palm Beach Library System, and profiled Sujata Massey and wrote a tribute to the late Margaret Maron in the latest issue of Mystery Scene.

NBCC board member Lori Feathers wrote about her conversation with Doireann Ní Ghríofa and her new book, A Ghost in the Throat, for Literary Hub, and Ní Ghríofa joined Lori and her co-host Sam Jordison on the latest episode of their podcast, Across the Pond.

Member News, Etc.

Joan Frank’s collection Where You’re All Going: Four Novellas won the Gold Medal in the Short Story Fiction category of the Independent Publishers Book Awards.

Carlos Lozada, a winner of the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing and the Pulitzer Prize, was interviewed about his book What Were We Thinking at the Gaithersburg Book Festival by Politics & Prose co-owner Brad Graham.

NBCC Vice President/Secretary Colette Bancroft will be in conversation with Maggie O’Farrell, author of the NBCC Award-winning Hamnet, on Sunday, June 13, at 1:00 pm Eastern. You can register for this free event here.

Partner News

NBCC publication member Rain Taxi is hosting a virtual event with Nathaniel Mackey in conversation with Joseph Donahue on Wednesday, June 9, at 5:30 pm Central. You can register for this free event here.

Photo by Laura D’Alessandro 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.