Critical Notes

New reviews and more from NBCC members

By Jennie Hann

A wall of turquoise bookshelves

Greetings, NBCC friends!!

Our members have been reviewing new titles by authors including Ben Shattuck and Kyung-sook Shin, writing features on topics ranging from book censorship to the history of feminist publishing, moderating panels at conventions, launching new journals, and so much more! Read on for the full scoop.

Meanwhile, a quick reminder that applications for our 2022-23 Emerging Critics Fellowship are open on Submittable through May 7. The fellowship aims to identify, nurture, and support the next generation of book critics from diverse backgrounds. We appreciate your help in spreading the word. Thanks and have a great week!!

Member Reviews/Essays

ForThe Atlantic, Farah Abdessamad wrote about nine works in translation that came to fame slowly—and with an attendant myth of “discovery”—in the English-language marketplace.

Gayle Feldman wrote about 150 years of book censorship for the special anniversary issue of Publishers Weekly.

Jeffrey Mannix reviewed Colson Whitehead’s Harlem Shuffle for his Murder Ink column in the Durango Telegraph.

Shara Lessley edited a retrospective feature on Ellen Bryant Voigt’s Kyrie, featuring essays by Rachel Richardson, Molly McCully Brown, C.T. Salazar, and Molly Spencer, for West Branch.

Cory Oldweiler reviewed Lea Ypi’s Free: A Child and a Country at the End of History for the Los Angeles Review of Books, and Jennifer Close’s Marrying the Ketchups for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Michael Sims reviewed Martin Walker’s Bruno’s Challenge and Cara Black’s Murder at the Porte de Versailles for The Washington Post.

Former NBCC board member and VP/Treasurer Marion Winik reviewed Margo Jefferson’s Constructing a Nervous System for the Minneapolis Star Tribune and Erika Krouse’s Tell Me Everything for The Washington Post.

Oline H. Cogdill reviewed Annie Ward’s The Lying Club; Peter Swanson’s Nine Lives; and The Shadow House by Anna Downes for Shelf Awareness, as well as Alex Segura’s Secret Identity; Brandon Slocumb’s The Violin Conspiracy; Peng Shepherd’s The Cartographers; Edwin Hill’s The Secrets We Share; Gary Phillips’s One-Shot Harry; and Sasha Rothchild’s Blood Sugar, all for the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Tobias Carroll wrote about Kel Kade’s novel Destiny of the Dead for, previewed ten new April books for InsideHook, and wrote about several March works in translation for Words Without Borders.

Kathleen Rooney reviewed Kyung-sook Shin’s Violets for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, as well as Margo Jefferson’s Constructing a Nervous System and Morgan Thomas’s Manywhere: Stories, both for LIBER.

Jennifer Baumgardner constructed a handy timeline of feminist publishing’s greatest moments for LIBER: A Feminist Review, which just put outs its first issue.

Bill Thompson reviewed Taylor Dotson’s The Divide: How Fanatical Certitude Is Destroying Democracy for the Los Angeles Review of Books, and Ben McGrath’s Riverman: An American Odyssey for The Post and Courier of Charleston, South Carolina.

R.J. Heller reviewed Catherine J.S. Lee’s Island Secrets for the Bangor Daily News.

Heller McAlpin reviewed Ben Shattuck’s Six Walks: In the Footsteps of Henry David Thoreau for the Christian Science Monitor.

Sarah McCraw Crow reviewed Emily St. John Mandel’s Sea of Tranquility; Diana Abu-Jaber’s Fencing with the King; Meghan O’Rourke’s The Invisible Kingdom; and Stephanie Cacioppo’s Wired for Love, all for BookPage.

Lauren LeBlanc reviewed The Baby on the Fire Escape: Creativity, Motherhood, and the Mind-Baby Problem by Julie Phillips for the Los Angeles Times.

Mara Sandroff reviewed Mecca by Susan Straight for Newcity Lit.

Terese Svoboda reviewed Frank Stewart’s Still at Large for The Adroit Journal.

Former NBCC board member Dan Cryer reviewed Michelle Huneven’s Search for the Los Angeles Times.

In Ellen Prentiss Campbell’s latest column for The Washington Independent Review of Books, “Girl Writing” hits the road on an ekphrastic house-hunting trip for her imaginary friends.

For Publishers Weekly, NBCC VP/Online David Varno profiled novelist Sandra Newman, whose interest in the power of dreams and utopias shaped recent works including The Heavens and The Men. Also for PW, David compiled a list of fun, vibrant, occasionally offbeat summer fiction titles as part of the annual Summer Reads feature.

Barbara J. King reviewed What Climate Justice Means and Why We Should Care by Elizabeth Cripps for NPR and Frans de Waal’s Different: Gender Through the Eyes of a Primatologist for Science magazine.

Hannah Joyner reviewed Six Walks: In the Footsteps of Henry David Thoreau by Ben Shattuck for On the Seawall.

Member Interviews

Marion Winik interviewed James Patterson and Dolly Parton on their latest collaboration, Run, Rose, Run, for Kirkus Reviews.

Tobias Carroll talked comics and storytelling with Mortals writer John Dermot Woods at Vol. 1 Brooklyn.

At Lit Hub, NBCC VP/Events Jane Ciabattari talked to Emily St. John Mandel about the narrative possibilities of time travel and gearing up to launch Sea of Tranquility on the heels of the HBO release of Station Eleven.

NBCC board member Lori Feathers and her co-host Sam Jordison talked to Irish writer Hugo Hamilton about his latest novel, The Pages, for their “Across the Pond” podcast.

Member News

Marion Winik’s flash piece on cicadas—originally published on—was selected for the Lit Hub Daily Roundup.

Oline H. Cogdill moderated two panels at the annual mystery convention Left Coast Crime.

Iris Jamahl Dunkle had three poems—“Robot, Return”; “Bird”; and “L’appel Du Vide”—published in issue 51 of The Bombay Literary Magazine.

Partner News

The PEN World Voices Festival is back, live and in person from May 11 through May 14 in both New York and LA!! Our friends at PEN America are offering NBCC members a generous 25% discount on tickets to featured events; use code AWARDSWVF22. Thanks, PEN friends!!

In Memoriam

We are saddened to report the death of Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award winner Romeo Rolando Hinojosa-Smith, at the age of 93. NBC News has an obituary. Read more about his contributions to literary culture and his selection by the Sandrof Committee here.

Baltimore Shelfie” photograph by NBCC board member Jennie Hann. 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, and tell us about awards, honors, and new or forthcoming books. Drop a line to Be sure to include the link to your work.