Critical Notes

New reviews and more from NBCC members

By Michael Schaub

Dear members, thanks to everyone who’s been helping our diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives by filling out our recent survey! If you haven’t responded to the survey yet, there’s still time—we’ve extended the deadline to Friday, Sept. 3. The survey takes less than five minutes to complete, and you can select “decline to state” on any question. 

We’re also happy to announce that we met our fundraising goal for our auction to support our DEI initiatives! To all our donors and supporters, those who bid on items and experiences, and everyone who helped get the word out: Thank you so much! Your generosity means the world to us.

Member Reviews/Essays

Meryl Natchez reviewed Forrest Gander’s Twice Alive for the Los Angeles Review of Books and Diane Seuss’ frank: sonnets for Rain Taxi.

Edward Derby reviewed The Poem’s Country: Place & Poetic Practice, edited by Shara Lessley and Bruce Snider, for The Rumpus.

Bridget Quinn reviewed Parsifal and the Atom 1916-1917, volume four of Hilma af Klint’s projected seven-volume catalogue raisonné, for Hyperallergic.

NBCC Vice President/Secretary Colette Bancroft reviewed Honorée Fanonne Jeffers’ The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Boisfor the Tampa Bay Times.

Michael Adam Carroll reviewed Saïd Sayrafiezade’s American Estrangementfor the Ploughshares blog and Francisco Goldman’s Monkey Boyfor the Los Angeles Review of Books.

NBCC Emerging Critic Mandana Chaffa interviewed Jonathan Lee about his book The Great Mistake for TriQuarterly.

Wayne Catan reviewed Matthew Specktor’s Always Crashing in the Same Car: On Art, Crisis, and Los Angeles, California for the Los Angeles Review of Books.

W. Scott Olsen reviewed Timm Rautert and the Lives of Photography (Steidl) as well as Creating Photographs by Albert Watson (Laurence King) for Frames magazine. 

Julia M. Klein reviewed Ann Hagedorn’s Sleeper Agent for the Forward.

Chris Barsanti reviewed Ulrich Alexander Boschwitz’s The Passenger, translated by Philip Boehm, for Rain Taxi.

Kevin Blankinship wrote about the work of International Booker Prize-winning Omani novelist Jokha Alharthi for Sada Magazine (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace), and wrote for Newlines Magazine about how a few women warriors made a huge impact in early Islamic history, including The Tale of Princess Fatima (Penguin Classics, trans. Melanie Magidow).

Diane Scharper reviewed The Fierce Life of Grace Holmes Carlson by Donna T. Haverty-Stack for The National Catholic Reporter.

Ethan Chatagnier reviewed Daniel Suarez’s The Playwright’s Housefor On the Seawall.

Clea Simon reviewed Ash Davidson’s Damnation Spring for The Boston Globe.

Martha Anne Toll reviewed Elly Fishman’s Refugee High for The Washington Post.

Member Interviews

Honorée Fanonne Jeffers’s The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois is the next Oprah’s Book Club pick. It’s a lyrical, thoughtful, emotionally resonant, sometimes edgy, and ultimately profound work, writes NBCC Vice President/Events and Fiction Chair Jane Ciabattari. Here’s her interview with Jeffers in her Literary Hub column.  

W. Scott Olsen interviewed Paul Raeside, Jared Powers, and Thom O’Connor for three new installments of the Frames magazine podcast series.

In Episode 13 of NBCC board member Lori Feathers‘ podcast Across the Pond, co-host Sam Jordison throws a bunch of books into his suitcase as he departs for summer holiday, and Lori and Sam get chatty about 1971’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream by Hunter S. Thompson. 

Anne Charles interviewed playwright Barbara Kahn, in which she talked about her years working with the Theater for the New City and elsewhere, for the weekly cable access news/interview show All Things LGBTQ. 

Member News, Etc.

Kevin Blankinship recorded a poetry reading segment for KRCL 90.9 Salt Lake City along with Trish Hopkinson of Rock Canyon Poets (RCP), in order to promote the 2021 Utah Arts Fest. Listeners can stream it from the program website.

Jason Berry was profiled on New York Times Op-Docs for his 1992 book Lead Us Not Into Temptation.

Photo by Renzo Olivieri 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.