Critical Notes

New reviews and more from NBCC members

By Michael Schaub

Members and friends, we hope the last month of the year is treating you well so far! Our members have been busy this past week with reviews of books by authors including Melissa Broder, Tiphanie Yanique, Stevie Van Zandt, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Lily King, and more. In the coming days and weeks, we’re going to have several announcements about upcoming events you won’t want to miss, so please stay tuned! And as always, thanks for reading.

Member Reviews/Essays

NBCC Emerging Critic Fellow Mandana Chaffa reviewed Saša Stanišić’s Where You Come From, translated by Damion Searls, for the Ploughshares blog.

NBCC board member J. Howard Rosier wrote a remembrance of Virgil Abloh for Frieze.

Ellen Prentiss Campbell reviewed Klara Hveberg’s Lean Your Loneliness Slowly Against Mine, translated by Alison McCullough, for the Washington Independent Review of Books.

Clea Simon wrote about her interest in writing about the victims in crime fiction, drawing on her own experience, for The Boston Globe. Clea also reviewed Melissa Broder’s Milk Fed for The ArtsFuse

Former NBCC President Laurie Hertzel had the sad honor of writing the obituary for the great poet and translator Robert Bly for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, where she is senior editor for books. She also edited (and wrote some of) the annual holiday books section, highlighting nearly 60 books, including the annual “critics’ choice” list of ten critics’ favorite books of the year.

Jeffrey Mannix reviewed My Sweet Girl by Amanda Jayatissa––one of the first Sri Lankan women to secure an international book deal (Berkley/Penguin Random House)––for his Murder Ink column in the Durango Telegraph, covering southwest Colorado and the vast Four Corners of the Southwest.

Former NBCC board member Mark Athitakis reviewed Ayşegül Savaş’ novel White on White for On the Seawall.

Erika Dreifus“Five Israel-Infused Picture Books for Year-Round Reading” was published by Jewish Journal

Erik Gleibermann reviewed Tiphanie Yanique’s Monster in the Middle for the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Jay Gabler reviewed Stevie Van Zandt’s Unrequited Infatuations; Kathy Iandoli’s Baby Girl: Better Known as Aaliyah; and Woody Guthrie: Songs and Art * Words and Wisdom, edited by Nora Guthrie and Robert Santelli, for The Current. Jay also reviewed Kevin Goetz’s Audience-ology: How Moviegoers Shape the Films We Love for The Tangential.

Tobias Carroll reviewed Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Elder Race and Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We, translated by Bela Shayevich, for Tobias also reviewed six new books in translation for Words Without Borders, wrote about political thrillers for The New York Times Book Review, and wrote about writers influenced by skateboarding for InsideHook.

Joan Silverman reviewed Lily King’s Five Tuesdays in Winter for the Portland Press Herald.

Benjamin Woodard reviewed Hervé Le Tellier’s The Anomaly, translated by Adriana Hunter, for On the Seawall. 

For the Ploughshares blog, Rachael Nevins wrote about the story of storytelling in New York, My Village by Uwem Akpan, and about A Separation and Intimacies by Katie Kitamura as mirror images in what they say about how our lives are bound up in the lives of others.

Member Interviews

NBCC President David Varno profiled Sarah Manguso for Publishers Weekly. Manguso’s debut novel Very Cold People (Hogarth) comes out in February. 

NBCC Vice President/Events and Fiction Chair Jane Ciabattari talked to NBCC member Meg Waite Clayton, whose new novel, The Postmistress of Paris, was inspired by Chicago heiress Mary Jayne Gold, who joined Varian Fry and others to work with the Resistance during World War II, for Literary Hub.

Member News

Rebecca Donner’s All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days was selected as one of The New York Times100 Notable Books of 2021, as one of The Wall Street Journal’s 10 Best Books of 2021, and as a BBC Book of the Week.

Joan Naviyuk Kane will be reading from her most recent book, Dark Traffic, which was published in September, along with the poet Santee Frazier and the poet and nonfiction writer Sasha LaPointe, on Dec. 16 at Grolier Poetry Book Shop. The in-person link for tickets is here, and the link for joining by Zoom is here. Dark Traffic was included in Orion Magazine’s sixteen poetry recommendations for National Native American Heritage Month, reviewed by Rob McClennan, and was featured with a review and brief interview at Broadsided by Carolyn Ogburn. 

Former NBCC President and current Vice President/Grants Carlin Romano published an essay, “Hu Shi, Pragmatism and Confucianism,” in Confucianism and Deweyan Pragmatism, edited by Roger T. Ames, Chen Yajun, and Peter D. Hershock (University of Hawai‘i Press).

Tony Miksanek, M.D., authored Chapter 1 in Contemporary Physician-Authors: Exploring the Insights of Doctors Who Write, published by Routledge on November 24, 2021.

Partner News

Some great news from the West Coast: our partners at the wonderful Bay Area Book Festival have hired ​​Jane Marchant as Director for Artistic Inclusion and Norah Piehl as Director for Literary Programs. These are entirely new roles, created to meet the extraordinary moment in which the festival, along with all cultural event-based organizations, finds itself in the wake of the challenging and illuminating past two years. Jane is the former program director for our partner PEN‘s Literary Awards, and Norah, an NBCC member, is the former director of our partner the Boston Book Festival. Congratulations to all!

Photo of Circle City Books & Music in Pittsboro, N.C., by Selena N. B. H. via Flickr / CC BY 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.