Critical Notes

New reviews and more from NBCC members

By Michael Schaub

New York members and friends, the NBCC is holding a celebration of literary Brooklyn at a Brooklyn Book Festival event this Wednesday, Sept. 29, at 7:30 Eastern at The Center for Fiction! Join NBCC Vice President/Awards Maris Kreizman as she hosts a conversation with NBCC John Leonard Prize winners and nominees Raven Leilani (Luster), Brandon Taylor (Filthy Animals), and Julia Phillips (Disappearing Earth). Proof of full vaccination is required at check-in to attend this event in person. Mask wearing is also required throughout the building. We hope to see you there!

Member Reviews/Essays

Andre Bagoo wrote about poet Langston Hughes in the latest of The Gay & Lesbian Review

Julian Lucas reviewed Percival Everett’s The Treesfrom The New Yorker.

NBCC Emerging Critic Fellow Mandana Chaffa reviewed Mahogany L. Browne’s I Remember Death by its Proximity to What I Love for the Chicago Review of Books.

Former NBCC board member Mary Ann Gwinn reviewedRuth Ozeki’s new novel, The Book of Form and Emptiness, for the Los Angeles Times.

Barbara J. King reviewed Margaret Renkl’s Graceland, At Last: Notes On Hope And Heartache From The American South for NPR.

Carole V. Bell reviewed Percival Everett’s The Treesfor NPR.

Hamilton Cain reviewed Anthony Doerr’s Cloud Cuckoo Landfor The Boston Globe.

Linda Hitchcock reviewed Alexandra Joel’s The Royal Correspondentfor BookTrib.

Jake Cline reviewed T.C. Boyle’s Talk to Mefor The Washington Post.

Allen Barra reviewed Thaddeus Stevens: Civil War Revolutionary by Bruce Levine and John Marshall: The Final Founder By Robert Strauss for ScheerPost.

Former NBCC board member Steven G. Kellman, a winner of the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing, wrote an essay, “Desire for Oblivion,” for The Montréal Review.

In the Los Angeles Review of Books, John Domini reviewed Christopher Sorrentino’s memoir Now Beacon, Now Sea, while also considering the work of his father Gilbert.

Former NBCC President Laurie Hertzel reviewed The Speckled Beauty, a memoir by Rick Bragg; The Narrowboat Summer, a novel by Anne Youngson; the memoir Lieutenant Dangerous by Jeff Danziger; and the memoir In Kiltumper by Niall Williams and Christine Breen, for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, where she is senior editor of books. She also wrote about the top ten books of the fall.

Sarah Boxer reviewed Louise Bourgeois, Freud’s Daughter by Philip Larratt-Smith and Kusama: Cosmic Nature, edited by Mika Yoshitake and Joanna L. Groarke for Bookforum.

Yvonne C. Garrett reviewed Meghan Milks’s Margaret and the Mystery of the Missing Body and Sally Rooney’s Beautiful World, Where Are You for The Brooklyn Rail.

Tara Cheesman reviewed Laurent Binet’s Civilizations, translated by Sam Taylor, for Ron Slate’s On the Seawall.

Cory Oldweiler reviewed Jon McGregor’s Lean Fall Standfor the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

NBCC Vice President/Online Michael Schaub reviewed Percival Everett’s The Treesfor Alta.

Member Interviews

Meredith Maran interviewed Maggie Nelson for the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Former NBCC President Laurie Hertzel interviewed Kate DiCamillo about her newest novel, The Beatryce Prophecy, for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, where she is senior editor of books.

Theodore Kinni interviewed Dane Jensen about his new book The Power of Pressure for strategy+business

“I love the word matrix: it’s from the Latin for ‘mother,’ ” Lauren Groff tells NBCC Vice President/Events and Fiction Chair Jane Ciabattari in their Literary Hub conversation. Ciabattari also interviewed Hilma Wolitzer about her new short story collection, Today a Woman Went Mad in the Supermarket, and the catharsis of writing through grief in “The Great Escape,” after her husband died of COVID-19.

Member News

Former NBCC board member Valerie Boyd has been appointed Editor-at-Large at the University of Georgia Press. Boyd will represent the Press in seeking book projects in a wide range of subjects, including foodways, gender, history, journalism, labor, politics, race, justice and the South, broadly interpreted. Boyd, former arts editor at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and author of Wrapped in Rainbows: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston, is professor of journalism and nonfiction writing and the Charlayne Hunter-Gault Distinguished Writer in Residence at the University of Georgia. 

Clea Simon’s upcoming psychological suspense novel Hold Me Down has been reviewed by Library Journal, which said, “A mystery that explores character motivations … For fans of Alexander McCall Smith and Janet Evanovich.”

The new print issue of Rain Taxi has a strong review of John Domini’s memoir, The Archeology of a Good Ragù: “thick and rich… and powerful.” 

Judy Reveal’s short story “A Hole in the Sky” appeared in the premiere edition of SoUneque Magazine, which is available at major bookstores and news stores. Her reviews of The Chancellor, Miss Dior, and Down a Dark River will appear in the New York Journal of Books upon their publications in October and November.

Partner News

Our friends and partners at The Center for Fiction are co-sponsoring a virtual panel on environmental storytelling for the Brooklyn Book Festival along with Orion Magazine, featuring former NBCC President John Freeman, former NBCC board member Kerri Arsenault, Sumanth Prabhaker, Emily Raboteau, Sarah Smarsh, and Garnette Cadogan, on Thursday, Sept. 30, at 7:00 pm Eastern. You can register here.

Our friends and partners at Rain Taxi have a bunch of exciting virtual events coming up for the Twin Cities Book Festival!

Photo of Community Bookstore in Park Slope, Brooklyn, by giuliaduepuntozero 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.