Critical Notes

New reviews and more from NBCC members

By Michael Schaub

Members and friends, we hope you’re having a great month and getting in some good summer reading! Our members have been busy with reviews of books by authors like Anthomy Veasna So, Raynor Winn, Sara Nisha Adams, Mona Awad, Karen Tucker, and more, and interviewing writers including Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Malla Nunn, Sanjena Sathian, and Rachel Donohue. Stay tuned for some exciting news coming to your inbox soon about a cool new fundraiser, and as always, thanks for reading!

Member Reviews/Essays

Pedro Ponce reviewed Nathan Elias’ The Reincarnationsfor Heavy Feather Review.

Kathryn Ma reviewed Anthony Veasna So’s Afterparties for the San Francisco Chronicle.

Carole V. Bell wrote about why Nathan Harris’ The Sweetness of Water is having a moment for NPR, and reviewed The Eternal Audience of One by Rémy Ngamije for BookPage.

Hannah Joyner reviewed Maiden Voyages: Magnificent Ocean Liners and the Women Who Traveled and Worked Aboard Them by Siân Evans for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and Melanie Kirkpatrick’s Lady Editor: Sarah Josepha Hale and the Making of the Modern American Woman for the Washington Independent Review of Books.

Harvey Freedenberg wrote appreciations of Colum McCann and James Salter for Shelf Awareness. And for TheBurg, he wrote a profile of screenwriter and Harrisburg native Jeff Arch, who was nominated for an Oscar for the screenplay for Sleepless in Seattle, and has just published his first novel, and also reported on the post-COVID reopening of Harrisburg’s fine indie bookstore, The Midtown Scholar.

Kevin Blankinship reviewed The Republic of False Truths, a novel by Egyptian intellectual Alaa al-Aswany looking back on the 2011 Arab Spring, for Foreign Policy magazine. 

Jeffrey Mannix reviewed Andrea Camilleri’s The Cook Of the Halcyon for his Murder Ink column in the Durango Telegraph, covering southwest Colorado and the vast Four Corners of the Southwest.

Bill Thompson reviewed Philip D’Anieri’s The Appalachian Trail: A Biography, Alexander Lobrano’s My Place at the Table, and Raynor Winn’s The Wild Silencefor The Post and Courier of Charleston, S.C. 

Former NBCC president Laurie Hertzel reviewed Pastoral Song by James Rebanks and The Irish Assassins by Julie Kavanagh for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, where she is senior editor of books.

Theodore Kinni reviewed G. Richard Shell’s The Conscience Code: Lead with Your Values, Advance Your Careerfor strategy+business.

Linda Hitchcock reviewed Sara Nisha Adams’ The Reading Listfor BookTrib.

Ron Slate reviewed Karen Tucker’s novel Bewilderness for On The Seawall.

Martha Anne Toll reviewed Margarita Gokum Silver’s I Named My Dog Pushkinfor NPR.

Clea Simon reviewed Mona Awad’s All’s Well for The Boston Globe.

Dana Wilde reviewed The Best of Elizabeth Hand, edited by Bill Sheehan, in his Off Radar column for the Central Maine Newspapers.

Member Interviews

Martha Anne Toll interviewed Ed Simon about his new book, An Alternative History of Pittsburgh, for The Millions.

NBCC Vice President/Online Michael Schaub wrote a profile of Silvia Moreno-Garcia for Kirkus Reviews.

Carole V. Bell interviewed Malla Nunn for BookPage.

On their podcast Across the Pond, NBCC board member Lori Feathers and co-host Sam Jordison talked to Rachel Donohue about her gothic novel, The Temple House Vanishing, set in an elite boarding school on a coastal cliff in Ireland.

Paul Wilner interviewed Sanjena Sathian about her novel Gold Diggers for the Nob Hill Gazette. Wilner also spoke with S.A. Lelchuk about his latest mystery, One Got Away, for the Gazette.

Julia M. Klein interviewed Rebecca Donner about All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days for the Forward.

Member News, Etc.

Clea Simon’s psychological suspense novel Hold Me Down will be published on Oct. 5 by Polis Books. She’d be grateful for galley requests through NetGalley or email her at and she can connect you with her publicist. Caroline Leavitt said, “This devastatingly powerful mystery hits you like a punch in the heart.” Lisa Unger called it “provocative, moving, and suspenseful,” and David Hajdu said, “Simon is a wizard.”

Prairie Schooner newsletter reprinted a profile of Ann-Chadwell Humphries in an article by the University of South Carolina, written by Bryan Gentry for National Poetry Month. Kaleidoscope Journal published a review by Sandy Lindow, who reviewed Humphries’ first poetry collection, An Eclipse and A Butcher, published by Muddy Ford Press. MFP selected Humphries as second in their Laureate Series to pair an experienced poet with an emerging voice. Additionally, Humphries is one of eight new inductees into South Carolina Humanities Speakers Bureau: Humanities Out Loud.

NBCC Vice President/Events and Fiction Chair Jane Ciabattari has a new short story, “Air and Fog, Light and Flight,” just published in Big Other, the online arts and culture magazine edited by NBCC member John Madera

NBCC Vice President/Treasurer Marion Winik is the keynote speaker at Hippocamp, an annual conference for creative nonfiction writers, this coming Saturday, Aug. 14, in Lancaster, Pa. She will speak on the ethics of creative nonfiction.

Pedro Ponce’s collection of short stories, The Devil and the Dairy Princess, is forthcoming from Indiana University Press in October. The collection won the 2020 Don Belton Fiction Prize, judged by Charles Yu. 

Photo by byronv2 via Flickr / CC BY-NC 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.