Critical Notes

New reviews and more from NBCC members

By Michael Schaub

Members and friends, we hope you’re having a great winter! Our members have been keeping busy with reviews of books by authors like Emily Maloney, Julia May Jonas, Stacey Abrams, Kim Fu, Edwin Torres, and more, and interviewing writers including Marlon James, Sara Gran, and Lan Samantha Chang. Remember to check out our 30 Books in 30 Days series, spotlighting this year’s NBCC Awards finalists, and as always, thanks for reading!

Member Reviews/Essays

Kristin Dykstra reviewed Edwin Torres’ Quanundrum [i will be your many angled thing] for Big Other, and Silvina López Medín’s That Salt on the Tongue to Say Mangrove, translated by Jasmine V. Bailey, for Your Impossible Voice.

Valerie Duff-Strautmann reviewed Fady Joudah’s Tethered to Stars for the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Kristen Martin reviewed Emily Maloney’s Cost of Living for NPR.

Former NBCC President Laurie Hertzel reviewed Elizabeth Weiss’s debut novel, The Sisters Sweet, for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, where she is senior editor for books. She wrote her weekly Bookmark column about the banning of Maus and other books.

Anne Charles reviewed Jonathan Ned Katz’s The Daring Life and Dangerous Times of Eve Adams for Lambda Literary.

Hannah Joyner reviewed Lost & Found by Kathryn Schulz for the Los Angeles Review of Books

Colin Asher reviewed Hugo Hamilton’s The Pages for the Washington Independent Review of Books.

NBCC Treasurer Marion Winik wrote “A Collision of Two Ecstatic Experiences: The Stubborn Joy of Groupie Moms” in the Baltimore Fishbowl. For The Washington Post, she reviewed Julia May Jonas’ Vladimir, Faith Jones’ Sex Cult Nun, and Ann Marks’ Vivian Maier Developed. For an NBCC insider experience, check out President David Varno’s article about Anne Tyler in Publishers Weekly, in which Winik is quoted as a knowledgeable literary Baltimorean.

Heller McAlpin reviewed Sarah Manguso’s Very Cold People for NPR and Johanna Kaplan’s Loss of Memory is Only Temporary for The Wall Street Journal.

Lisa Russ Spaar wrote her Second Acts column at the Los Angeles Review of Books about second books by Nathaniel Perry and Brigit Pegeen Kelly.

Judy Reveal reviewed Never Tell by Stacey Abrams writing as Selena Montgomery, L.A. Burning by D.C. Taylor, The Metropolitan Opera Murders by Helen Traubel, and Long Overdue at the Lakeside Library by Holly Danvers for the New York Journal of Books.

Ian MacAllen reviewed Kim Fu’s Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century for the Chicago Review of Books.

Michael Sims wrote about the nineteenth-century astronomer and more, Maria Mitchell, and the twenty-first-century astrophysicist and more, Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, for The Boston Globe.

Carol Iaciofano Aucoin reviewed Jennifer Haigh’s novel Mercy Street for WBUR’s Arts & Culture.

Cory Oldweiler reviewed Nina Mingya Powles’ Small Bodies of Water for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Lanie Tankard reviewed The Almond in the Apricot by Sara Goudarzi for The Woven Tale Press.

Alexander Pyles reviewed Sarah Blake’s Clean Air for the Ancillary Review of Books.

Julia M. Klein reviewed Laura Kipnis’ Love in the Time of Contagion for the Forward.

NBCC Vice President/Online Michael Schaub reviewed Emily Maloney’s Cost of Living for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Member Interviews

Jim Ruland talked to Sara Gran about her new standalone novel, The Book of the Most Precious Substance, and interviewed Slash cofounder and punk photographer Melanie Nissen for the Los Angeles Times.

In The Brooklyn Rail, John Domini has a long interview with Marlon James about his new African fantasy, Moon Witch, Spider King.

Meredith Maran interviewed Lan Samantha Chang for The Washington Post, and talked to some of the contributors to the new anthology Anonymous Sex for the Los Angeles Times.

Martha Anne Toll interviewed Jai Chakrabarti for Bloom.

Member News

Parul Kapur Hinzen has been working on awards at the Asian American Journalists Association. NBCC members are invited to submit their work, which may be best suited for a new award in Excellence in Arts & Culture/Entertainment Reporting. Features, reported essays, reviews, and profiles published either in 2020 or 2021 are welcome and must be submitted by March 1. The writer need not be Asian American, but please note that AAJA seeks to highlight insightful stories of underrepresented communities, particularly AAPI, and the writers who work to bring their stories to light. Only AAJA members may submit and Ally membership is available here

NBCC lifetime member Greg Sarris represented the U.S. in a #literaturelivearoundtheworld program presented by the Bay Area Book Festival in Berkeley, and including authors beaming in from Bergen, Budapest, Dubai, Gaborone, Jaipur, Paris, Perth, and Toronto. His subject: The rise of American Indian literature in the U.S., and his forthcoming memoir, Becoming Story: A Journey among Seasons, Places, Trees, and Ancestors, which narrates his own life in the context of the deep past, historical traumas, and possible futures of his homeland.

Jamie Brown‘s chapbook of poems, A Passing Acquaintance with Grief, has been published by The Broadkill Press, and can be found here. The book’s release was delayed by Brown’s 2016 aortic dissection and lengthy hospital stays and rehab.

Grace Schulman’s poem “Because” won a Pushcart Prize and appears in the new Pushcart Prize Anthology XLVI, 2002, p. 444. It’s her fifth Pushcart Prize. “Because” was also published as a Poem of the Week in The Guardian (UK). It will have a new reprinting in Poetry of Presence, Vol. 2, and in her book, Again, The Dawn: New and Selected, forthcoming in November from Turtle Point Press.

Partner News

The Robert B. Silvers Foundation, directed by Daniel Mendelsohn, is now soliciting applications for the 2022 Silvers Grants for Work in Progress. Anglophone writers of any nationality may apply for up to $10,000 to support long-form essays in the fields of literary criticism, arts writing, political analysis, and/or social reportage. The deadline for applications is March 31. For more information, please visit the Foundation website here.

In Memoriam

Jason Epstein, the winner of the 2001 NBCC Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award, has died at 93. We offer our sincere condolences to his loved ones.

Photo by rafallg 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.