Critical Notes

New reviews and more from NBCC members

By Michael Schaub

Members and friends, we hope you’re all doing well! Our members have been keeping busy lately, reviewing books by authors like NoViolet Bulawayo, Karen Joy Fowler, Lee Cole, Margo Jefferson, and Gish Jen, and interviewing writers including Meghan O’Rourke, Clint Smith, and Karen Tei Yamashita. Remember to register for our NBCC Awards ceremony and finalists reading, which is happening Thursday, March 17! We’re hoping to see all of you there. 

Member Reviews/Essays

Marjoleine Kars reviewed Laura F. Edwards’ Only the Clothes on Her Back: Clothing and the Hidden History of Power in the Nineteenth-Century United States for The Washington Post.

Jeffrey Ann Goudie reviewed Karen Joy Fowler’s Booth for The Boston Globe.

Kathryn Ma reviewed NoViolet Bulawayo’s Glory for the San Francisco Chronicle.

Hamilton Cain reviewed Lee Cole’s Groundskeeping for The New York Times Book Review, Gish Jen’s Thank You, Mr. Nixon for Oprah Daily, and NoViolet Bulawayo’s Glory for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Carlin Romano, former NBCC President and current Vice President/Grants, published an essay, “Ignorance in Journalism and the Case of Generalization,” in the special “Post-Truth” issue of Revue Internationale de Philosophie, the Bruxelles-based philosophy journal launched by Karl Popper and Bertrand Russell. 

Jake Cline reviewed NoViolet Bulawayo’s Glory for The Washington Post.

Rochelle Spencer wrote about the future of book reviews for

Kristen Martin reviewed Sarah Krasnostein’s The Believer: Encounters with the Beginning, the End, and Our Place in the Middle for NPR.

Jeffrey Mannix reviewed Her Last Affair by John Searles for his Murder Ink column in the Durango Telegraph, covering southwest Colorado and the vast Four Corners of the Southwest.

Heather Hewett reviewed Kendra James’ Admissions for Liber.

Paul Wilner paid homage to Joan Didion’s legacy in the Nob Hill Gazette.

Former NBCC board member Steven G. Kellman, a winner of the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing, reviewed Fiona Snyckers’ Lacuna for the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Charles Green reviewed Jim Malloy’s Raptor’s Revenge for Blueink Review and Joe Okonkwo’s Kiss the Scars on the Back of My Neck for The Gay & Lesbian Review.

Lifetime NBCC member Fran Hawthorne reviewed Jeff Schander’s The Serpent Papers for the New York Journal of Books.

Cory Oldweiler reviewed Sandro Veronesi’s The Hummingbird, translated by Elena Pala, for the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Joan Frank reviewed Joel Agee’s The Stone World for The Washington Post.

Kevin O’Kelly reviewed Aki J. Peritz’s Disruption: Inside the Largest Counterterrorism Investigation in History for The Christian Science Monitor.

Kathleen Rooney reviewed Margo Jefferson’s Constructing a Nervous System for Liber and Maud Casey’s City of Incurable Women for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Wayne Catan reviewed Timothy Christian’s Hemingway’s Widow for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Theodore Kinni reviewed Smart Growth by Whitney Johnson for strategy+business.

Member Interviews

Former NBCC board member Benjamin Moser, author of Why This World, the NBCC Award finalist biography of Clarice Lispector, who was born in Ukraine, interviewed Ukrainian publisher Anetta Antonenko for The Nation.

NBCC Emerging Critics Fellow Mandana Chaffa interviewed Meghan O’Rourke about her new book, The Invisible Kingdom: Reimagining Chronic Illness, for the Chicago Review of Books.

Andru Okun interviewed NBCC Award for Nonfiction finalist Clint Smith for Hazlitt.

Grant Faulkner interviewed Jean Chen Ho about her debut novel Fiona and Jane and Ashley Ford about her memoir Somebody’s Daughter on the Write-minded podcast. 

For Alta, NBCC Vice President/Events and Fiction Chair Jane Ciabattari interviewed Karen Tei Yamashita about the research and inspiration behind I Hotel, the experimental novel Viet Thanh Nguyen calls “the great Asian American novel, with Asian in parentheses.” I Hotel is the latest California Book Club pick.  

Paul Wilner interviewed Victoria Kastner about Julia Morgan: An Intimate Biography of the Trailblazing Architect, for the Nob Hill Gazette.

Member News

Rebecca Donner won the PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Wells Award for Biography for All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days, also a finalist for the NBCC Award for Biography.

Tyler Mills’ new book of poems, City Scattered, winner of the Snowbound Chapbook Award (chosen by Cole Swensen), is being published by Tupelo Press in April 2022.

NBCC board member Lori Feathers‘ collective read of The Brothers Karamazov was featured in The Dallas Morning News and Literary Hub.

Partner News

Our friends and partners at the Whiting Foundation are holding their annual Whiting Awards ceremony on Wednesday, April 6, at 6:30 pm Eastern, featuring keynote speaker Maggie Nelson. The ceremony will be livestreamed; you can register here.

Photo of Petrivka Book Market in Kyiv, Ukraine, by VasenkaPhotography 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.