Critical Notes

New reviews and more from NBCC members

By Michael Schaub

Members and friends, we’re proud to kick off our brand-new NBCC Conversations series this Wednesday, Sept. 22, at 7:00 pm Eastern! Join NBCC Vice President/Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Ruben Quesada as he discusses institutional inequities with special guests Chanda Prescod-Weinstein (The Disordered Cosmos: A Journey Into Dark Matter, Spacetime, and Dreams Deferred), Lacy M. Johnson (The Reckonings), and Nicole Chung (All You Can Ever Know). You can register here!

Last week, NBCC board member Keetje Kuipers moderated a panel co-sponsored by the NBCC and the Montana Book Festival about how the history (read: violence) of the American West is mined in order to write contemporary literature toward and about the region today, featuring guests Sterling HolyWhiteMountain (“Featherweight”), Kirstin Valdez Quade (The Five Wounds), and Kristiana Kahakauwila (This Is Paradise). If you missed it, you can watch it here

Member Reviews/Essays

NBCC Emerging Critic Fellow Willow Naomi Curry wrote a review of prominent Houston gallery Project Row Houses’ latest exhibition Gulf Coast Anthropocenefor Southwest Contemporary.

NBCC Emerging Critic Fellow Mandana Chaffa reviewed Devon Walker-Figueroa’s Philomath for the Chicago Review of Books.

Carole V. Bell reviewed These Toxic Things by Rachel Howzell Hall for NPR and A Play for the End of the World by Jai Chakrabarti for BookPage. She also wrote a news story for theGrio about the Kirkus Prize finalists.

Jay Gabler reviewed Joshua Clover’s Roadrunner, Marc Wasserman’s Ska Boom!, Lemmy Kilmister’s White Line Fever, and two new books about Prince for The Current.

Former NBCC board member Steven G. Kellman, a recipient of the NBCC Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing, reviewed Paul Auster’s Burning Boyfor The American Scholar.

Richard Scott Larson reviewed Christopher Sorrentino’s Now Beacon, Now Seafor the Chicago Review of Books.

Lanie Tankard reviewed On Freedom by Maggie Nelson for The Woven Tale Press.

NBCC Vice President/Secretary Colette Bancroft reviewed Colson Whitehead’s Harlem Shufflefor the Tampa Bay Times.

Charles Green reviewed Andrew Rowen’s Columbus and Caonabo for Blueink Review.

Julia M. Klein reviewed Rebecca Frankel’s Into the Forest for the Forward.

Ellen Prentiss Campbell reviewed Muriel Barbery’s A Single Rosefor the New York Journal of Books.

Jake Cline reviewed Mary Roach’s Fuzzfor Outside.

Linda Hitchcock reviewed Rebecca Frankel’s Into the Forestand Andrea Kayne’s Kicking Ass in a Corsetfor BookTrib.

Oline H. Cogdill reviewed The Missing Hours by Julia Dahl and Getaway by Zoje Stage for the Sun Sentinel and Friends Like These by Kimberly McCreight and The House of Ashes by Stuart Neville for Shelf Awareness.

Rien Fertel reviewed Sally Rooney’s Beautiful World, Where Are Youfor The A.V. Club, and wrote an appreciation of Robert Stone’s 1967 novel A Hall of Mirrorsfor 64 Parishes.

Kathleen Rooney reviewed Maggie Nelson’s On Freedomfor the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Priscilla Gilman reviewed Ruth Ozeki’s The Book of Form and Emptiness for The Boston Globe.

Meg Waite Clayton’s September Bay City Books includes new releases by Shruti Swami, Mary Roach, Joanna Ho, and José Vadi.

Member Interviews

Hamilton Cain interviewed Lawrence Wright, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Looming Tower, on the twentieth anniversary of 9/11 for Oprah Daily.

Daneet Steffens interviewed Julia Dahl for the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Oline H. Cogdill moderated the panel “Trouble in the Neighborhood” for the Palm Beach Library System with James O’Born, Tracy Clark, David Bell and Hilary Davidson.

For Kirkus Reviews, former NBCC President Tom Beer interviewed Elon Green about Last Call: A True Story of Love, Lust, and Murder in Queer New York.

Martha Anne Toll interviewed Cassandra Lane about her memoir We Are Bridges for Bloom.

Member News, Etc.

Richard Scott Larson was named a MacDowell Fellow in the nonfiction writers category.

Alone Together: Love, Grief, and Comfort in the Time of COVID-19, edited by Jennifer Haupt and featuring contributions from writers including Martha Anne Toll, won the 2021 Washington State Book Award for General Nonfiction.

Erika Dreifus hosted the Association of Jewish Libraries (AJL)’s September Jewish Book Carnival on her My Machberet blog.

Steve Paul’s book Literary Alchemist: The Writing Life of Evan S. Connell will be published by University of Missouri Press in December. 

Partner News

Our partners at Rain Taxi are sponsoring a conversation with Tongo Eisen-Martin, Crystal Wilkinson, and Michael Kleber-Diggs on Thursday, Sept. 23, at 5:30 pm Central, and a celebration of author Shruti Swamy on Monday, Sept. 27, at 5:30 pm Central, as part of the Twin Cities Book Festival.

Our partners at the Community of Literary Magazines and Presses are holding a virtual celebration in support of independent literary publishing, honoring their 2021 awardees, on Oct. 13: Alexander Chee, the recipient of the Energizer Award for Exceptional Acts of Literary Citizenship, and Alice James Books, the recipient of the Colophon Award for Paradigm Independent Publishing. You can buy tickets to this celebration here.

Photo by Tommy Ellis via Flickr / CC BY-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.