Critical Notes

New reviews and more from NBCC members

By Michael Schaub

Members and friends, we hope you all were able to watch our awards ceremony last Thursday, and we’d like to congratulate all of the winners: Jeremy Atherton Lin, Rebecca Donner, Melissa Febos, Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, Clint Smith, Diane Seuss, Anthony Veasna So, Merve Emre, Percival Everett, and the Cave Canem Foundation. If you missed the ceremony, including the finalists reading and Merve Emre’s powerful Balakian Citation acceptance speech, you can watch it here. Thanks so much for all of your support over this past year, and as always, thanks for reading!

Member Reviews/Essays

Asa Drake reviewed Adrienne Su’s Peach State for AAWW’s The Margins.

Lanie Tankard reviewed Kalani Pickhart’s I Will Die in a Foreign Land for Ron Slate’s On the Seawall.

Betsy Groban wrote about the Jane Austen Society of North America for The Boston Globe.

NBCC Vice President/Membership Chelsea Leu reviewed Eloghosa Osunde’s Vagabonds! for The New York Times Book Review.

Jay Gabler reviewed Jill Gutowitz’s Girls Can Kiss Now for The Tangential.

Hannah Joyner reviewed The Fell by Sarah Moss for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Jenny Shank reviewed Sindya Bhanoo’s Seeking Fortune Elsewhere for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Ellen Prentiss Campbell reviewed Sarah Moss’ The Fell for the Washington Independent Review of Books.

NBCC Vice President/Emerging Critics Fellowship Heather Scott Partington reviewed Susan Straight’s Mecca for Alta.

In his newsletter, Sebastian Stockman asks: What is creative nonfiction?

Rhoda Feng reviewed Trapped in the Present Tense: Meditations on American Memory by Colette Brooks for The Brooklyn Rail.

In The Washington Post, John Domini reviewed “the first full-length fiction” of war-torn contemporary Ukraine, Lucky Breaks by Yevgenia Belorusets.

Diane Scharper reviewed Winslow Homer: American Passage by William R. Cross for the Washington Examiner.

Dana Wilde reviewed Gary Lawless’s new book of verse, How the Stones Came to Venice, Dean Bennett’s illustrated Thoreau’s Maine Woods: A Legacy for Conservation, and John Duncan’s photo collection Take It Easy: Portland in the 1970s in his Off Radar column for the Central Maine Newspapers, and wrote about the misunderstood shark for the 2021 Island Journal.

RJ Heller reviewed NBCC member Dana Wilde’s Winter for the Bangor Daily News.

NBCC lifetime member Fran Hawthorne reviewed Susan Straight’s Mecca for the New York Journal of Books.

Martha Anne Toll reviewed Garrett Hongo’s The Perfect Sound: A Memoir in Stereo for The Washington Post.

Chris Barsanti reviewed We Don’t Know Ourselves by Fintan O’Toole for PopMatters.

Rafael Castillo wrote about literacy and bookstores in decline for the San Antonio Express-News.

For Esquire, Adam Morgan wrote about the 50 best fantasy books of all time (to Reddit’s chagrin).

Former NBCC board member Steven G. Kellman, a winner of the NBCC Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing, reviewed Alexander Maksik’s The Long Corner for the Forward.

Oline H. Cogdill reviewed This Might Hurt by Stephanie Wrobel, The Paradox Hotel by Rob Hart, and The End of Getting Lost by Robin Kirman for Shelf Awareness, and The Magnolia Palace by Fiona Davis, The Lightning Rod by Brad Meltzer, and The Match by Harlan Coben for the Sun Sentinel.

Yvonne C. Garrett reviewed Margaret Atwood’s Burning Questions: Essays and Occasional Pieces 2004-2021 for The Brooklyn Rail.

Ian MacAllen wrote about the history of the Feast of San Gennaro festival for Whetstone.

Lauren LeBlanc wrote about the work of Harry Crews for the Los Angeles Times, and put together a roundup of eight new memoirs to read this spring for the Observer.

NBCC board member Stephanie Burt reviewed Never Say You Can’t Survive: How to Get Through Hard Times by Making Up Stories by Charlie Jane Anders, and Trisha Collopy reviewed Himawari House by Harmony Becker, in the new issue of Rain Taxi.

Priscilla Gilman reviewed French Braid by Anne Tyler for The Boston Globe.

Member Interviews

Daneet Steffens interviewed Alex Segura for the Los Angeles Review of Books.

For their Across the Pond podcast, NBCC board member Lori Feathers and her co-host Sam Jordison welcomed Salena Godden to discuss her novel, Mrs. Death Misses Death.

Tyler Mills interviewed Gail Mazur for Ron Slate‘s On the Seawall.

Oline H. Cogdill interviewed C.J. Box for Mystery Scene magazine’s spring issue.

Martha Anne Toll interviewed Barbara Quick for the Washington Independent Review of Books.

Julia M. Klein profiled Tom Fisher, author of The Emergency, for the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine.

Member News, Etc.

Laura Villareal’s debut collection of poetry, Girl’s Guide to Leaving, is coming out on April 26 from the University of Wisconsin Press.

The Uptown Messenger covered Jason Berry’s book and film City of a Million Dreams.

Joan Gelfand has had two poems from The Chapel of Bones, her work in progress, accepted for publication: “Hanami” will appear in The Wax Paper (L.A.)  and “Branded”  in The Ignatian, the literary journal of the University of San Francisco. In addition, Joan’s poem “The Ferlinghetti School of Poetics” appears in Light on the Walls of Life, a tribute anthology to Lawrence Ferlinghetti published by Jambu Press on March 24, Ferlinghetti’s 102 birthday.

Partner News

Our friends and partners at Rain Taxi are hosting a special event with Samuel R. Delany in conversation with Lavelle Porter, broadcast live during the AWP Conference in Philadelphia, on Thursday, March 24, at 7:30 pm Eastern. You can register for this free event here.

Photo by NBCC Vice President/Emerging Critics Fellowship Heather Scott Partington. Used with permission.

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.