Critical Notes

New Reviews and More from NBCC Members

By Jennie Hann

A woodsy cabin with overflowing bookshelves

We hope your June is off to a great start!!

Reminder: in addition to your bylines, we encourage you to SEND US YOUR SHELVES!! We are currently featuring “shelfies”—photo of members’ bookshelves and workspaces—at the top of Critical Notes. To contribute, please send your image to with the subject line “shelfie.”  And scroll down to find out whose shelf is featured this week!!

Also: we’ve been working to develop an NBCC member Slack channel, a place where you can connect with fellow critics, discuss the latest literary news, trade books, plan local/regional meet-ups, and more!! A version of the channel is in beta testing; for more information or to join, email our VP/Membership Chelsea Leu.

As always, stay safe, and thanks for reading!!

Member Reviews/Essays

NBCC board member Adam Dalva wrote about Body Work, the new essay collection from NBCC award winner Melissa Febos, for The Atlantic.

NBCC board member Colette Bancroft reviewed Happy-Go-Lucky by David Sedaris for the Tampa Bay Times.

Chris Barsanti wrote about the Penguin Classics Marvel Comics Collection for The Millions.

Heller McAlpin reviewed Happy-Go-Lucky by David Sedaris for NPR.

Former NBCC board member and 2006 Balakian winner Steven G. Kellman reviewed Up From the Depths: Herman Melville, Lewis Mumford, and Rediscovery in Dark Times by Aaron Sachs for The American Scholar.

Christoph Irmscher reviewed a trio of new books about prehistoric life for The Wall Street Journal: Steve Brusatte’s The Rise and Reign of the Mammals, Riley Black’s The Last Days of the Dinosaurs, and David Randall’s The Monster’s Bones.

Clea Simon reviewed Ann Leary’s The Foundling for The Boston Globe and Claire Kohda’s Woman, Eating for The Arts Fuse.

Jason Berry reviewed This Will Not Pass: Trump, Biden, and the Battle for America’s Future by Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns for The Daily Beast.

Marcie McCauley reviewed Sheila Heti’s Pure Colour for the Hamilton Review of Books.

Linda Hitchcock reviewed Daughters of the Occupation by Shelly Sanders for BookTrib.

Diane Scharper reviewed The Five Wounds by Kristin Valdez Quade for the National Catholic Reporter.

Paul Wilner reviewed William Brewer’s The Red Arrow for Alta.

Former NBCC board member Mark Athitakis reviewed Fernanda Melchor’s novel Paradais, translated from the Spanish by Sophie Hughes, for On the Seawall.

For Lit Hub, the poet Lisa Russ Spaar reflected on the experience of making a foray into a new genre in late middle-age. (Her first novel, Paradise Close, was just published by Persea Books).

Kevin Brown reviewed Lydia Davis’s Essays One and Two and provided a roundup of five other books translated by either Davis or Raymond N. MacKenzie for Rain Taxi.

Ellen Prentiss Campbell’s bi-monthly column for the Washington Independent Review of Books considered “America’s bullet-riddled narrative” in light of the terrible events in Uvalde.

Rhoda Feng reviewed Ethically Challenged: Private Equity Storms US Health Care by Laura Katz Olson and Sickening: How Big Pharma Broke American Health Care and How We Can Repair It by John Abramson for The American Prospect.

Jeffrey Mannix reviewed Metropolis by B.A. Shapiro for his Murder Ink column in the Durango Telegraph.

Priscilla Gilman reviewed Horse by Geraldine Brooks for The Boston Globe.

Elaine Szewczyk profiled British actress-turned-novelist Jessie Burton for Publishers Weekly.

Member Interviews

For Lit Hub, NBCC VP/Events Jane Ciabattari interviewed Marie Myung-Ok Lee about her complicated, satiric, and ultimately tragic novel, The Evening Hero.

Theodore Kinni interviewed Peter Desberg and Jeffrey Davis about their book Pitch Like Hollywood for strategy+business.

Rhoda Feng interviewed Bernardine Evaristo for Bookforum.

Kevin Blankinship spoke about poet, freethinker and alleged Muslim heretic al-Ma’arri (973-1057) for “What Happened in Baghdad,” a podcast exploring the lives of the city’s premodern creatives hosted by Kamel Saeed and supported by the Liverpool Arab Arts Festival.

Partner News

Our partners and friends at Rain Taxi are hosting a free, in-person event to celebrate the release of the déjà vu: black dreams & black time by Gabrielle Civil on Wednesday, June 8, at 7:00 p.m. Central at Open Book in Minneapolis. Please 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.

“No Evil” photo by NBCC member Frank Freeman. Used with permission.

SEND US YOUR STUFF: To have your work featured in the weekly Critical Notes, please join the NBCC (or renew your membership). Then send us your bylines! Please make sure to include the author and full title, the publication, and a working link, along with your name and pronouns.