Critical Notes

New reviews and more from NBCC members

By Michael Schaub

Members and friends, we’re proud to announce the launch of this year’s 30 Books in 30 Days feature today! Over the next few weeks, we’ll be posting appreciations from our board members about the finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Awards. You can find these reviews here—we hope you’ll take a look. And remember to save the date for the virtual NBCC Awards ceremony on March 17. We hope you’re all doing well, and as always, thanks for reading!

Member Reviews/Essays

Kathleen Rooney reviewed Sarah Manguso’s Very Cold People for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and wrote an essay for the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame on Ronald L. Fair’s unfairly forgotten Hog Butcher.

NBCC Vice President/Fundraising Anita Felicelli wrote two pieces on Natalie Diaz’s Postcolonial Love Poem for Alta.

Clea Simon reviewed Olga Tokarczuk’s The Books of Jacob for The Boston Globe. 

Tim Riley reviewed Joseph Horowitz’s Dvořák’s Prophecy for the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Former NBCC President Kate Tuttle reviewed Julia May Jonas’ Vladimir for The Boston Globe.

Ryan Chapman wrote about the film adaptation of Michael Chabon’s Wonder Boys for Literary Hub.

Former NBCC board member Carolyn Kellogg reviewed John Darnielle’s Devil House and Domenico Starnone’s Trust, translated by Jhumpa Lahiri, for The Boston Globe. She also wrote about the recent Norman Mailer kerfuffle for the Los Angeles Times.

Charles Green reviewed A. Jay Collins’ The Golden Handcuffs for Blueink Review.

Tony Miksanek‘s review of The Emergency: A Year of Healing and Heartbreak in a Chicago ER by Thomas Fisher was featured as Booklist’s “Review of the Day” on Feb. 4.

At the Republic of Consciousness Prize blog, Prize Chair and NBCC board member Lori Feathers continues her series on debuts by famous authors who got their start with a small press.

Heller McAlpin reviewed Toni Morrison’s Recitatif for The Christian Science Monitor and Tessa Hadley’s Free Love for NPR.

RJ Heller reviewed Susan Conley’s Landslide for four newspapers in Maine.

Lindsey Anthony-Bacchione reviewed Natashia Deón’s The Perishing for The Rumpus.

Jeffrey Mannix reviewed Silent Parade, by Keigo Higashino and translated from the Japanese by Giles Murray, for his Murder Ink column in the Durango Telegraph, covering southwest Colorado and the vast Four Corners of the Southwest.

Kitty Kelley reviewed Rebecca Mead’s Home/Land for the Washington Independent Review of Books.

Rien Fertel reviewed Dana Stevens’ Camera Man: Buster Keaton, The Dawn Of Cinema, And The Invention Of The Twentieth Century and Isaac Butler’s The Method: How the Twentieth Century Learned to Act for the A.V. Club. He also wrote an appreciation of LeAnne Howe’s Shell Shaker for 64 Parishes.

Amy Reardon reviewed Jean Chen Ho’s Fiona and Jane for Alta.

Martha Anne Toll reviewed Gavin Larsen’s Being a Ballerina for FF2.

Jean Huets wrote about Juhea Kim’s Beasts of a Little Land for the Historical Novel Society.

Julia M. Klein reviewed Jessamine Chan’s The School for Good Mothers for Chicago magazine.

NBCC Vice President/Online Michael Schaub reviewed Gish Jen’s Thank You, Mr. Nixon for NPR.

Member Interviews

Paul Wilner interviewed Jonathan Evison and Isabel Allende for the Nob Hill Gazette.

Grant Faulkner interviewed Margaret Verble for the podcast Write-minded.

Former NBCC board member Carolyn Kellogg interviewed Imani Perry about her new book, South to America, for the Los Angeles Times, and talked to Maud Newton about her upcoming memoir, Ancestor Trouble, for the new publication Salvation South.

Lauren LeBlanc interviewed Tessa Hadley for the Los Angeles Times.

Martha Anne Toll interviewed Natasha Brown for The Millions.

Member News

Cynthia Schwartzberg Edlow was one of two finalists for the 2021 Emma Lazarus Project-Poetry Contest from the American Jewish Historical Society (AJHS) in partnership with the National Endowment for the Humanities for her poem “Dear American Lady.” Edlow’s poem, in the words of the AJHS, “will be archived with Miss Lazarus’ original sonnet ‘The New Colossus’ for generations to come.”

Photo of the Boston Public Library by Little Koshka 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.