Critical Notes

New reviews and more from NBCC members

By Michael Schaub

Members and friends, as you may have heard, we’re launching a brand-new award: the Gregg Barrios Book in Translation Prize, named in honor of our longtime board member who passed away in August. In honor of the new award, we’re co-presenting a special event with our friends at Community Bookstore, featuring Laura Marris, who will present her new translation of Albert Camus’s The Plague, in conversation with Camus biographer and scholar Alice Kaplan, and NBCC board member Adam Dalva. This Zoom event will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 9 at 6:30 pm Eastern, and you can register here. We hope to see you all there!

Member Reviews/Essays

Farah Abdessamad reviewed The Glance of the Medusa by László F. Földényi, translated by Jozefina Komporaly, for Review 31 and On Centre/Off Stage from Todd Reisz for Elephant magazine.

Kristen Martin wrote about the ways that historical fiction about the orphan train movement has come to dominate our cultural understanding of that era for Lapham’s Quarterly.

Ron Slate reviewed Course Of The Empire, photographs by Ken Light, for On The Seawall.

NBCC Vice President/Secretary Colette Bancroft reviewed Louise Erdrich’s The Sentenceand Michael Connelly’s The Dark Hoursfor the Tampa Bay Times. Erdrich and Connelly are the headliners at the Times’ virtual Festival of Reading—seven live Zoom interviews, nine authors, Nov. 8-14. Anyone who wants to view the talks can register at It’s free except for the Erdrich talk, which is ticketed.

Clea Simonreviewed Gary Shteyngart’s Our Country Friends for The Boston Globe.

NBCC lifetime member Fran Hawthorne reviewed Louise Fein’s The Hidden Childfor the New York Journal of Books.

Former NBCC President Laurie Hertzel wrote a column about how much her readers value their book clubs. (Next week’s column will present the contrarian view.)

Ellen Pall wrote about mothers, memory, and Proust for The New York Review of Books.

Former NBCC board member Steven G. Kellman, a winner of the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing,reviewed Jai Chakrabarti’s novel A Play for the End of the Worldfor the Forward.

Rayyan Al-Shawaf reviewed Uwem Akpan’s New York, My Villagefor The Washington Post.

Allan Graubard reviewed Stephanie D’Alessandro and Matthew Gale’s Surrealism Beyond Bordersfor Leonardo.

Katrina Gulliver reviewed Beth Shapiro’s Life as We Made Itfor The American Conservative and Edward Slingerland’s Drunkfor Reason.

Dean Rader‘s essay review about an exhibition catalogue for an ambitious exhibition that never occurred, “Poetry/painting/history/hermeneutics: On Cy Twombly: Making Past Present” is up at Jacket2.

Jake Cline wrote about Susan Orlean’s On Animals, Emma Marris’ Wild Souls, Cal Flyn’s Islands of Abandonment, and the year’s other essential books about animals and the natural world for The Washington Post.

Eric Liebetrau writes about books that take a look at life under lockdown, new nonfiction books for music lovers, and how your favorite TV shows got made for Kirkus Reviews.

Allen Barra wrote about Ian Fleming’s James Bond and Bryan Burrough, Chris Tomlinson and Jason Stanford’s Forget the Alamofor The Daily Beast, and about Fury vs. Wilder III and newly minted Baseball Hall of Famer Marvin Miller for The Village Voice.

Paul Wilner reviewed Rebecca Solnit’s Orwell’s Roses for the Nob Hill Gazette.

Jean Huets reviewed two books for the Historical Novel Society: Olav Audunssøn: I. Vows by Sigrid Undset, translated by Tiina Nunnally, and The Moon, the Stars, and Madame Burova by Ruth Hogan.

Anne Charles reviewed the film My Name Is Pauli Murrayfor The Gay and Lesbian Review.

Amy Reardon reviewed Claire Vaye Watkins’ I Love You but I’ve Chosen Darknessfor Alta.

Ellen Wayland-Smith reviewed Ashley Ford’s Somebody’s Daughter for the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Priscilla Gilman reviewed The Sentence by Louise Erdrich for The Boston Globe.

Jeffrey Mannix reviewed Rider on the Rain by Sébastien Japrisot, translated by Linda Coverdale,for his Murder Ink column in the Durango Telegraph, covering southwest Colorado and the vast Four Corners of the Southwest.

Hamilton Cain reviewed Richard Powers’ Bewildermentfor the Harvard Review.

NBCC Vice President/Online Michael Schaub reviewed Kyle Lucia Wu’s Win Me Somethingfor NPR.

Member Interviews

Former NBCC President Laurie Hertzel interviewed Louise Erdrich about her new novel, The Sentence, for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, where she is senior editor for books.

In NBCC Vice President/Events and Fiction Chair Jane Ciabattari‘s Literary Hub column, Elizabeth Strout talks about her new novel, Oh, William!, the third of her Lucy Barton series, and the closest to autofiction: “I just kept thinking: Be Lucy! Look at all of this from her point of view!”

Paul Wilner interviewed Gabrielle Selz for the Nob Hill Gazette about her new biography, Light on Fire: The Art and Life of Sam Francis.

Rafael Castillo interviewed Alex Z. Salinas for the San Antonio Express-News.

Kathleen Rooney interviewed Logan Berry for The Brooklyn Rail.

On her podcast, Across the Pond, NBCC board member Lori Feathers and her co-host, Sam Jordison, talked to Sarah Hall on her sensual new novel about art, grief and intimacy, Burntcoat.

Lisa Peet talked to Stephanie Gangi about her novel Carry the Dog for Bloom.

Member News, Etc.

Jenny Shank was interviewed by Paula Younger about her short story collection Mixed Company, which will be published by Texas Review Press on Nov. 15,at the Fiction Writers Review.

Ellen Pall’s new novel, Must Read Well, will be published by Bancroft Press in September 2022. 

Partner News

Our friends and partners at Rain Taxi are hosting a virtual conversation with poet Grzegorz Kwiatkowski and translator Peter Constantine in honor of their new chapbook, Crops, on Wednesday, Nov. 10, at 3:00 pm Central. You can register for this free event here.

Photo of La Biblioteca Patrimonial Recoleta Dominica in Santiago de Chile by Constanza Sturm 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.