Critical Notes

New reviews and more from NBCC members

By Michael Schaub

Dear friends and members, thank you so much to all of you who have helped get the word out about our auction to fund our diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives! Please keep helping to spread the word—we really appreciate your support. 

We’d also like to invite you to a Zoom closing event of 30-45 minutes in which we’ll talk about books on offer in the auction, the importance of literary criticism, and books we’re currently reading that we’re excited about. Join NBCC board members Justin Rosier, Ruben Quesada, and Anita Felicelli in conversation with our 2020 Balakian winner Jo Livingstone and author/critic Jesse McCarthy at 4 pm Pacific/7 pm Eastern on August 27. You can register for this event here.

Member Reviews/Essays

NBCC Emerging Critic Mandana Chaffa reviewed Major Jackson’s The Absurd Manfor The Rumpus.

Former NBCC President Tom Beer considers “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Long Books” for Kirkus Reviews.

Laura Spence-Ash wrote a critical essay for the Ploughshares blog which traces the ownership of a bracelet in Elena Ferrante’s The Lying Life of Adults.

Farah Abdessamad reviewed Thirii Myo Kyaw Myint’s Names for Light for the Ploughshares blog.

With its sixth volume, Freed, E.L. James’s Fifty Shades of Grey series has come to an end. NBCC Vice President/Treasurer Marion Winik has some surprising thoughts about what we’ve learned in The Washington Post. Recent episodes of Winik’s podcast, The Weekly Reader, have focused on thrillers by T.J. Newman, Stephen King, Max Barry and Megan Abbott. The Summer Love episode covered Rock the Boat by Beck Dorey-Stein and Seven Days in June by Tia Williams.

Sarah D’Stair reviewed Jean Day’s Late Humanfor The Rupture and Tamiko Beyer’s Last Daysfor The Adroit Journal.

Diane Scharper reviewed Mark Hussey’s Clive Bell and the Making of Modernismfor the Washington Examiner.

Theodore Kinni reviewedWanting: The Power of Mimetic Desire in Everyday Life by Luke Burgis for strategy+business.

Martha Anne Toll reviewed Names for Light by Thirii Myo Kyaw Myint for NPR.

Judy Reveal reviewed several books at the New York Journal of Books.

William O’Rourke published his article “The Roth/Bailey Contretemps” in The Fortnightly Review.

The third installment of former NBCC board member Victoria Chang and Dean Rader‘s collaborative review column for the Los Angeles Review of Books takes a look at Sho by Douglas Kearney.

Charles Green reviewed Kate Valery’s Midget for Blueink Review.

NBCC Vice President/Online Michael Schaub reviewed Mark Haskell Smith’s Rude Talk in Athensfor Alta and Jaime Cortez’s Gordofor NPR.

Member Interviews

Zack Graham interviewed Jonathan Lee about his novel The Great Escape for the Los Angeles Review of Books.

NBCC board member Megan Labrise interviewed Leigh Patel, Britta Lundin, Kaveh Akbar, and Veronica Chambers for Kirkus ReviewsFully Booked podcast.

Chuck Augello interviewed Steve Almond on Kurt Vonnegut’s enduring influence for The Daily Vonnegut.   

Member News, Etc.

Former NBCC Vice President/Membership Walton Muyumba was interviewed in Poets and Writers magazine by Michael Taeckens.

Partner News

Our friends and partners at Rain Taxi are hosting a virtual event featuring Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, author of the new The Love Songs of W.E.B. DuBois, in conversation with Lissa Jones-Lofgren, on Wednesday, Aug. 25, at 5:30 pm Central. You can register for this free event here.

Our friends and partners at the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Foundation have revealed the shortlists for their 2021 fiction and nonfiction awards, including authors James McBride, Louise Erdrich, Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai, Isabel Wilkerson, and Michele Harper. Because last year’s awards ceremony was canceled due to the pandemic, both this year’s and last year’s winners (Alice Hoffman and Chanel Miller) will be honored during a gala weekend in Dayton on Nov. 13 and Nov. 14.

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.

Photo by Owen Thomas via Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0.