Critical Notes / Announcements

New reviews and more from NBCC members

By Michael Schaub

Members and friends, we’d like to invite you all to a conversation, sponsored by the NBCC, about racial consciousness in literary criticism, on Thursday, July 15, at 8:00 pm Eastern. Just as astute fiction writers build their racial awareness to portray racial realities outside their own, discerning literary critics can develop such awareness to review books with unfamiliar racial experience. How can critics deepen understanding of an author’s racially-informed artistic tradition? Should critics seek editorial guidance to identify potential racial blind spots? This diverse panel brings together critics, editors and creative writers to explore these and other questions. The conversation will be moderated by Erik Gleibermann and the panelists are David Mura, Lisa Teasley, and Myriam Gurba, and you can register for this free event here.

Member Reviews/Essays

Carole V. Bell reviewed S.A. Cosby’s Razorblade Tears for NPR and Mikaella Clements and Onjuli Datta’s The View Was Exhausting for BookPage.

NBCC Emerging Critic Rishi Reddi reviewed Doris Iarovici’s Minus One for Salamander.

Colleen Rothman reviewed Kristen Radtke’s Seek You for Ploughshares.

Ellen Wayland-Smith reviewed Katina Manko’s Ding Dong! Avon Calling! for The Wall Street Journal.

Anne Charles reviewed Judy Grahn’s Touching Creatures,Touching Spirit: Living in a Sentient World for The Gay and Lesbian Review.

Steve Paul reviewed Mary Gauthier’s Saved by a Song: The Art and Healing Power of Songwriting for KC Studio magazine. 

Laura Spence-Ash wrote critical essays for the Ploughshares blog on the way that two of Lauren Groff’s recent stories are interconnected and how Bryan Washington used photos to echo the text in his novel Memorial.

Barbara J. King reviewed Catherine Raven’s Fox and I: An Uncommon Friendship for NPR.

Rachael Nevins wrote a critical essay about authorship, persona, and betrayal in To Write as if Already Dead by Kate Zambreno for the Ploughshares blog.

Former NBCC President Tom Beer wrote a consideration of the book blurb for Kirkus Reviews.

Allan Graubard reviewed Japanese Tales of Lafcadio Hearn, edited by Andrei Codrescu, for Leonardo.

Former NBCC President and current Vice President/Grants Carlin Romano reviewed Stories by Meir Blinkin, the grandfather of Secretary of State Antony Blinken, for the Spring issue of Moment

Anthony Domestico reviewed Francisco Goldman’s Monkey Boy for Commonweal

Peggy Kurkowski reviewed From the River to the Sea: The Untold Story of the Railroad War that Made the West by John Sedgwick, Address Unknown by Kathrine Kressman Taylor, and Cheyenne Summer: The Battle of Beecher Island, a History by Terry Morth for Shelf Awareness. Peggy also reviewed The Next Wife by Kaira Rouda and Yours Cheerfully by A.J. Pearce for Library Journal.

Robert Allen Papinchak reviewed Alex Christofi’s Dostoevsky in Love: An Intimate Life for World Literature Today. 

Oline H. Cogdill reviewed Hairpin Bridge by Taylor Adams and The Keepers by Jeffrey B. Burton for Shelf Awareness, and reviewed The Stranger in the Mirror by Liv Constantine, Warn Me When It’s Time by Cheryl A. Head, Dream Girl by Laura Lippman, The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris, The Photographer by Mary Dixie Carter, Her Three Lives by Cate Holahan, and Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala for the Sun-Sentinel and other publications.

Cory Oldweiler reviewed Tim Parks’ The Hero’s Way for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Member Interviews

Paul Wilner interviewed Diane Johnson from her Paris apartment about her latest novel, Lorna Mott Comes Home, and spoke with Pakistan-born writer/actress Mira Sethi about her debut story collection, Are You Enjoying?, for the Nob Hill Gazette.

Carole V. Bell interviewed Mikaella Clements and Onjuli Datta for BookPage.

Elizabeth Lund interviewed Yusef Komunyakaa for The Christian Science Monitor.

Member News, Etc.

Grant Faulkner’s short story collection, All the Comfort Sin Can Provide, will be published this month by Black Lawrence Press.

Former NBCC President and current Vice President/Grants Carlin Romano recently won two First Places in the so-called “Jewish Pulitzers,” the 40th annual Simon Rockower Awards of the American Jewish Press Association. Romano’s article, “Italian Jews: Rome, the Renaissance and Beyond,” appeared in the Winter 2020 issue of Moment, the bimonthly Washington D.C. magazine of Jewish culture co-founded by Nobel-Peace-Prize winner Elie Wiesel. A critical analysis of the new “National Museum of Italian Jewry and the Shoah” in Ferrara, Italy, it won for “Excellence in Arts News and Features” and “Excellence in Writing About Jewish History and Jewish Peoplehood in Europe.” Judges described the article by Romano, Critic-at-Large of Moment, as “An incredible job weaving the backstory of Italy and the Jews through history with the modern story of creating a museum about the entire Italian Jewish experience….riveting.” Moment also won First Place in the “Best Magazine” and “Best Website.”

The Mind by John FitzGerald, which NBCC member Hélène Cardona nominated, is among the five finalists in World Literature Today‘s “21 Books for the 21st Century” poll. Here are the five top vote recipients, followed by the respective nominating statements.

Photo by Paul Sableman 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.