Critical Notes

New reviews and more from NBCC members

By Michael Schaub

Members and friends, we hope you’re getting ready for the summer and getting some good reading done! This week, our members have been busy reviewing books by authors like Zakiya Dalila Harris, Nana Nkweti, Rahul Raina, Alex McElroy, Brenda Peynado, and more, and interviewing writers such as James Breakwell, David Buss, and Ethel Rohan. Stay cool, stay safe, and as always, thanks for reading!

Member Reviews/Essays

Naomi Jackson reviewed Zakiya Dalila Harris’ The Other Black Girl and Monica West’s Revival Seasonfor The Washington Post.

Martha Anne Toll reviewed Nana Nkweti’s Walking on Cowrie Shellsfor NPR.

Christopher Spaide reviewed A Whole World: Letters from James Merrill, edited by Langdon Hammer and Stephen Yenser, for the Poetry Foundation.

Former NBCC board member Katharine Weber (Kenyon Review’s Editor at Large) wrote about Leslie Brody’s Sometimes You Have to Lie, the biography of Harriet the Spy author Louise Fitzhugh, in the Kenyon Review editors’ summer reading roundup.

April Yee wrote an essay about Rahul Raina’s How to Kidnap the Rich and Alex McElroy’s The Atmospherians for the Ploughshares blog.

Hannah Joyner published an essay in the Washington Independent Review of Books called “As I Lay Trying: Learning to Read Faulkner in the Era of Black Lives Matter” in which she discusses The Saddest Words: William Faulkner’s Civil War by Michael Gorra.

Former NBCC board member Carolyn Kellogg reviewed Rivka Galchen’s Everyone Knows Your Mother is a Witch for the Los Angeles Times.

Joan Frank reviewed Simon Van Booy’s Night Came With Many Starsfor The Boston Globe.

Lanie Tankard reviewed Among the Hedges by Sara Mesa for The Woven Tale Press.

Ethan Chatagnier reviewed Brenda Peynado’s The Rock Eatersfor On the Seawall.

W. Scott Olsen reviewed The Deposition by Pete Duval for the Los Angeles Review of Books, Sauntering, editedby Duncan Minshull, for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and Taxi: Journey Through My Windows 1977-1987 by Joseph Rodriguez for Frames.

Kathleen Rooney reviewed John Brandon’s Ivory Shoalsfor the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Joseph Peschel reviewed Jim Shepard’s Phase Sixfor The Brooklyn Rail.

Kelly Mitchell reviewed James Breakwell’s How to Be a Manfor Musing Around.

Member Interviews

Kelly Mitchell interviewed James Breakwell about his new book, How To Be A Man, on her podcast, Playing Devil’s Advocate.

Julia M. Klein interviewed David Buss about When Men Behave Badly for California Magazine.

NBCC Vice President/Events and Fiction Chair Jane Ciabattari talked to Ethel Rohan, author of In the Event of Contact, about the replenishing beauty of Ireland and being “a queen of uncomfortable stories,” for Literary Hub.

Member News, Etc.

Carlos Lozada, a winner of the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing and the Pulitzer Prize, won Washington Monthly’s 2021 Kukula Award for Excellence in Nonfiction Book Reviewing for his Washington Post review of White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo.

Kjerstin Kauffman reviewed Grace Schulman‘s latest book,The Marble Bed, in Literary Matters. Grace was interviewed by Aspen Matis in The Best American Poetry blog, and two of her poems have been included in anthologies: “Gone” in Together in a Sudden Strangeness, edited by Alice Quinn, and “Celebration” in Poems of Healing, edited by Karl Kirchwey.

Amy Lyons reviewed NBCC member Ellen Prentiss Campbell’s Frieda’s Songfor Necessary Fiction.

Terese Svoboda‘s Theatrix: Poetry Plays was reviewed by NBCC member Dawn Raffel in Statorecand by Julia Converse in Lit Pub.

Partner News

Book submissions to the 2022 PEN America Literary Awards are open now through August 1! This coming year, our partners at PEN America will confer some $350,000 to writers and translators at all stages of their careers. 

NBCC publication members Rain Taxi will host an event with poet Arthur Sze in conversation with Eric Lorberer on Thursday, June 17, at 5:30 pm Central. You can register for this free event here.

Photo by JuliaC2006 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.