Critical Notes

New reviews and more from NBCC members

By Michael Schaub

Members and friends, we hope you’re having a good summer! Our members have been keeping busy with reviews of books by authors like Rajiv Mohabir, Rodrigo Garcia, Marina Jarre, Mariana Leky, Matthew Specktor, and more, and interviewing writers including Helene Wecker, Alix Ohlin, and John Domini. Stay safe, stay cool, and as always, thanks for reading!

Member Reviews/Essays

Jenny Shank reviewed Patricia Engel’s Infinite Country for America.

Former NBCC board member Dan Cryer reviewed Akash Kapur’s Better to Have Gone: Love, Death and the Quest for Utopia in Auroville for The Boston Globe.

NBCC Vice President/Fundraising Anita Felicelli reviewed Rajiv Mohabir’s Antiman for The Washington Post, Michelle Richmond’s The Wonder Test for the San Francisco Chronicle, and Nawaaz Ahmed’s Radiant Fugitives for Alta. Anita also wrote a profile of the erotic reading series Red Light Lit and its cofounder Jennifer Lewis for Alta.

Genese Grill reviewed Thomas Harrison’s Of Bridges: A Poetic and Philosophical Account for On the Seawall.

Former NBCC board member and winner of the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing Steven G. Kellman reviewed Marina Jarre’s Distant Fathers for the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Hamilton Cain reviewed Rodrigo Garcia’s A Farewell to Gabo and Mercedes for Oprah Daily.

Meg Waite Clayton’s July Bay City Books column includes new releases by Diane Johnson, Michelle Richmond, Michael Pollan, Sheera Frankel and Cecilia Kang, and more.

Cory Oldweiler reviewed Ellen Airgood’s Tin Camp Road for the Minneapolis Star Tribune and Luiz Ruffato’s Late Summer for On the Seawall.

Barbara Basbanes wrote about Elvis Presley’s annotated copy of The Prophet going up for auction in the U.K. for Fine Books & Collections Magazine and spoke with artists, collectors, and experts about the booming NFT art market for Art & Object

Bridget Quinn looks at Theosophy, desert seekers and lost legacies in her review of Another World: The Transcendental Painting Group, edited by Michael Duncan, for On the Seawall.

Kai Maristed reviewed What You Can See From Here by Mariana Leky, translated by Tess Lewis, for On the Seawall.

Tobias Carroll wrote about Chris McKinney’s Midnight Water City for, and wrote about books by Jessica Leonard and Chris Kelso for Mystery Tribune.

Sarah McCraw Crow reviewed J. Michael Straczynski’s Together We Will Go for BookPage.

Paul Wilner reviewed Matthew Specktor’s Always Crashing in the Same Car: Art, Crisis and Los Angeles, California for ZYZZYVA magazine.

Member Interviews

Sarah McCraw Crow interviewed Helene Wecker about her new novel The Hidden Palace for University Bookstore Seattle. 

NBCC Vice President/Events and Fiction Chair Jane Ciabattari‘s conversation with Alix Ohlin at Literary Hub covers the rich literary territory of dysfunctional family dynamics, the value of literary magazines (and some writers she’s discovered there, including Meng Jin in The Threepenny Review, Sonya Larson in Ploughshares, and Jonathan Escoffery in Electric Literature). 

Tobias Carroll interviewed NBCC member John Domini and Melissa Wiley for Vol. 1. Brooklyn.

Member News, Etc.

An excerpt from a book-in-progress by NBCC member Adam Hochschild appeared in The New York Review of Books.

Former NBCC board member David Biespiel’s poem “Sekiu” appeared in The New Yorker.

Meg Waite Clayton’s The Postmistress of Paris (Harper, Nov. 30) was included on David Varno’s Publishers Weekly list of notable literary fiction for fall. It received a starred PW review praising its “lyrical, thought-provoking prose” and concluding, “This sterling portrait of a complex woman stands head and shoulders above most contemporary WWII fiction.” 

Alina Stefanescu reviewed Heidi Seaborn’s An Insomniac’s Slumber Party with Marilyn Monroe (PANK Books, June 2021) in On the Seawall.

Partner News

NBCC partners the Brooklyn Book Festival have revealed their initial lineup for their hybrid event this year. Check out who will be attending this year, and be sure to mark your calendars for Sept. 26 – Oct. 4.

Our partners at the PEN/Faulkner Foundation have opened submissions for the 2022 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, which will be judged by Rion Amilcar Scott, Eugenia Kim, and Rebecca Makkai. mPublishers, authors, and literary agents are encouraged to submit books published in 2021 by October 31. Visit the foundation’s website to view our full submission guidelines.

NBCC partners The Loft have unveiled the lineup for Wordsmith, their craft, career, and connection conference for writers. Visit their website to see the amazing industry professionals who will be virtually visiting. 

Our partners at Rain Taxi will present former U.S. Poet Laureate and National Humanities Medal and National Medal of Arts recipient Rita Dove in their event series on Tuesday, August 3, at 5:30 pm Central. Rita Dove will be joined by Pulitzer-prize winning poet Jericho Brown to discuss her first book of new poems in twelve years, Playlist for the Apocalypse. You can register for this free event here.

Photo of Librería El Ateneo in Buenos Aires by Josefina Marsano 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.