Critical Notes

New reviews and more from NBCC members

By Chelsea Leu

A shelf full of stacks of books, seen from below and at an angle

Greetings, NBCC Members and Friends! We hope your spring is off to a great start!!

Member Reviews/Essays

Former NBCC president and current VP/Online David Varno reflected on the organization’s past two years and expressed hope for the future in a special column for Publishers Weekly.

Barbara Spindel reviewed Nell McShane Wulfhart’s The Great Stewardess Rebellion for The Wall Street Journal and Lillian Faderman’s Woman: The American History of an Idea for The Christian Science Monitor.

Kristin Dykstra reviewed Argentine writer Susana Thénon’s Ova Completa, translated from the Spanish by Rebekah Smith, for The Rumpus.

Franklin Freeman reviewed the recently-released, expanded edition of Ferlinghetti: A Life by Neeli Cherkovski for America Magazine.

Hamilton Cain reviewed Hernan Diaz’s Trust for Oprah Daily, Mieko Kawakami’s All the Lovers in the Night for The Washington Post, and Colin Barrett’s Homesickness for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. He also interviewed Lauren Groff about her new story, “Junket.”

Heller McAlpin reviewed The Baby on the Fire Escape by Julie Phillips for The Wall Street Journal, Companion Piece by Ali Smith for NPR, and Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt for The Christian Science Monitor.

Martha Anne Toll reviewedSlaves for Peanuts: A Story of Conquest, Liberation, and a Crop That Changed History by Jori Lewis for NPR and Charlotte by David Foenkinos, translated from the French by Sam Taylor, for FF2 Media.

To honor Jewish American Heritage Month, Erika Dreifus wrote about a variety of children’s picture-book biographies of prominent American Jews for Moment magazine.

Diane Scharper reviewed William Blake vs. the World by John Higgs for the Washington Examiner.

Charles Green reviewed Kerri Maher’s The Paris Bookseller for The Gay & Lesbian Review and Paul Marzell’s Heimat for Blueink Review.

Costa B. Pappas wrote an op-ed about the Associated Press Stylebook’s pronoun policies for Newsweek.

Lanie Tankard reviewed The Cat Who Saved Books by Sosuke Natsukawa, translated from the Japanese by Louise Heal Kawai, for World Literature Today.

Ellen Prentiss Campbell wrote about Steven Schwartz’s “Stranger” (from his collection Madagascar), for the Fiction Writers Review, kicking off their celebration of Short Story Month.

Yvonne C. Garrett reviewed Claire Kohda’s Woman, Eating for The Brooklyn Rail.

Cory Oldweiler reviewed Petar Andonovski’s Fear of Barbarians, translated by Christina Kramer, for Apofenie and Monika Herceg’s Initial Coordinates, translated by Marina Veverec, for the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Sean Carlson profiled 2022 PEN America Translation Prize winner Julia Sanches (translator of Migratory Birds by Mariana Oliver) and finalist Alta L. Price (translator of New Year by Juli Zeh) for Rhode Island’s alt-monthly Motif Magazine. He also contributed an essay on Joanne Leedom-Ackerman’s memoir of advocating for freedom of expression with PEN International.

Lauren LeBlanc reviewed Ali Smith’s Companion Piece for the Los Angeles Times.

Jeffrey Mannix reviewed The Murder Rule by Dervla McTiernan for his Murder Ink column in the Durango Telegraph.

Dana Wilde reviewed Trailed: One Woman’s Quest to Solve the Shenandoah Murders by Kathryn Miles for his Off Radar column for Central Maine Newspapers.

Linda Hitchcock reviewed Emily Henry’s Book Lovers for BookTrib.

Robert Allen Papinchak reviewed Domenico Starnone’s novel Trust, translated from the Italian by Jhumpa Lahiri, in the May issue of World Literature Today.

Member Interviews

At Lit Hub, NBCC VP/Events Jane Ciabattari spoke with Hernan Diaz about his new novel, Trust,the United States’ “undying fascination” with “the totally ideological fable of the ‘self-made man’—a fable, it should be said, from which women have been utterly erased”—and the ways Borges has shaped his work.

NBCC VP/Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Ruben Quesada interviewed Thomas Hitoshi Pruiksma about translating The Kural for the Seattle Town Hall “In the Moment” podcast.

NBCC board member Lori Feathers and her co-host Sam Jordison talked to writer Steve Toltz about his comedic and audacious new novel, Here Goes Nothing, for their “Across the Pond” podcast.

Julia M. Klein interviewed Mary Jo Salter about her new poetry collection, Zoom Rooms, for Johns Hopkins Magazine. She also reviewed the collection for the same outlet.

Martha Anne Toll interviewed ballerina-writer Toni Bentley about her new book, Serenade: A Balanchine Story, for Pointe Magazine.

Ladane Nasseri interviewed Dalia Azim about her debut novel, Country of Origin, for Electric Literature.

Ian MacAllen was interviewed about his new book, Red Sauce: How Italian Food Became American, in the Southern Review of Books.

Kevin Blankinship sat down with veteran Arabic literary translator William Maynard Hutchins to talk about his storied career—from his work with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis on a translation of The Cairo Trilogy by Egyptian Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz to his many new, forthcoming titles—for the New Lines Magazine podcast.

Jim Schley interviewed Megan Mayhew Bergman, author of How Strange a Season,for Vermont’s Seven Days.

Member News

NBCC board member Mandana Chaffa just launched the second issue of Nowruz Journal, a periodical of Persian arts and letters, of which she is the founder and editor-in-chief.

Partner News

Our partners and friends at Rain Taxi are hosting a free, in-person event featuring poets Jeffrey Yang and Anni Liu at the Hook & Ladder Theater in Minneapolis next Monday, May 16, at 7 p.m. Central. More information is available here. Note that proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test within seventy-two hours will be required for entry; see the website for more details.

“Leaning Tower of 2022” photograph by NBCC member Hamilton Cain. Used with permission.

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