Critical Notes

Reviews and More From NBCC Members

By Jennie Hann

W. Scott Olsen. The Reading List in Morning

Greetings, NBCC Friends,
In the aftermath of the horrific attack against novelist Salman Rushdie, the National Book Critics Circle remains committed to advocating for the right to freedom of expression for authors, critics, and scholars everywhere. We wish the author a strong recovery.
In the Spotlight

How to Read Now: Essays by Elaine Castillo
At On The Seawall, former NBCC board member Mark Athitakis praised Castillo’s “bracing, informed, and often funny essay collection,” which, he notes, aims to explode traditional pieties and clichés about reading: “Bad reading runs deeper than bad takes, [Castillo] argues—rather, there’s a systemic problem of misreading that does a disservice to minority writers and often warps how we interpret white ones.”
In the Los Angeles Review of Books, NBCC Emerging Critic Kathy Chow heralded the book as a “masterclass in cultural criticism,” even while questioning the extent to which Castillo achieves her aims: “As stylistically refreshing as [How to Read Now] is in its irreverence, it is a work that eschews risk” in favor of arguments that have been at the heart of the literary crusade for social justice for some time now, Chow writes.
Member Reviews and Essays
NBCC board member May-lee Chai reviewed A Map for the Missing by Belinda Huijuan Tang for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
NBCC board member Mandana Chaffa reviewed Jana Prikryl’s Midwood for the Ploughshares blog.
NBCC Emerging Critic Layla Benitez-James reviewed two new collections for the Poetry Foundation’s Harriet BooksLubna Safi’s debut, Your Blue and Quiet Lament, and André Naffis-Sahely’s High Desert.
Farah Abdessamad reviewed Vladimir Sorokin’s dystopian novel Telluria, translated from the Russian by Max Lawton, for Jacobin.
For KirkusEric Liebetrau wrote an essay remembering David McCullough, the “consummate researcher and polished writer” of history and biography who died last week at the age of 89.
At PopMattersRayyan Al-Shawaf reviewed The Book of Queens, a new novel by the Lebanese writer Joumana Haddad.
For On the SeawallCory Oldweiler reviewed Titaua Peu’s novel Pina, “a powerful picture of Tahitian society” now available in a “dynamic new English translation” by Jeffery Zuckerman.
Lanie Tankard reviewed Denver Noir, an anthology of crime fiction about the Mile-High City edited by Cynthia Swanson, for The Woven Tale Press.
Nell Beram reviewed Nona Willis Aronowitz’s Bad Sex: Truth, Pleasure, and an Unfinished Revolution and Shy: The Alarmingly Outspoken Memoirs of Mary Rodgers (with theater critic Jesse Green), both for Shelf Awareness. In addition, Salon published Beram’s essay “Monogamy, without the ‘-ish’: A humble and definitely not cool defense of the closed relationship.”
Kathleen Rooney reviewed Joyce Elbert’s A Tale of Five Cities and Other Memoirs and Will McCrath’s Farewell Transmission, both for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
Bridget Quinn reviewed Anne Truitt’s posthumous book of life writing, Yield: The Journal of an Artist, for On The Seawall.
Allan Graubard reviewed Four Lost Cities: A Secret History of the Urban Ageby Annalee Newitz for the journal Leonardo.
For WBUR’s Arts & CultureCarol Iaciofano Aucoin reviewed Mother in the Dark, Kayla Maiuri’s novel about how undiagnosed mental illness impacts successive generations.
Ron Slate reviewed the novels Autobiographies of an Angel by Gábor Schein, translated from the Hungarian by Ottile Mulzet, and The Missing Word by Conchita DeGregorio, translated from the Italian by Clarissa Botsford, for On The Seawall. He also reviewed Floridas, photography by Anastasia Samoylova and Walker Evans, for the same outlet.
R.J. Heller reviewed the novel The Light Keeper’s Daughters by Jean E. Pendziwol for Lighthouse Digest.
For the New York Journal of BooksJudith Reveal reviewed Katharine Schellman’s latest Lily Adler mystery, Death at the Manor. Earlier this summer, she also reviewed Trees, an anthology of writings and paintings by Herman Hesse, for the same outlet.
Oline H Cogdill reviewed Ramona Emerson’s Shutter and Leah Franqui’s After the Hurricane for the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
For Pointe MagazineMartha Anne Toll reviewed Catherine E. Pawlick’s Vaganova Today: The Preservation of Pedagogical Tradition, “an exhaustive study of Agrippina Yakovlevna Vaganova (1879–1951),” the great Russian ballet teacher who developed the technique that bears her name.
Hamilton Cain reviewed David Cottington’s Radical Art and the Formation of the Avant-Garde for On The Seawall.
Frank Freeman wrote a column of book recommendations for the Portland Press Herald.
Member Interviews
Former NBCC board member Tess Taylor was featured on NPR’s All Things Considered in conversation with Poetry award winner Ross Gay (2016). She also interviewed Poetry award winner Ada Limón (2018) about her new appointment as U.S. Poet Laureate.
Oline H. Cogdill gave her summer picks for mystery fiction for PBS’s Between the Covers.
At The MillionsMartha Anne Toll interviewed Laura Warrell about her debut novel Sweet, Soft, Plenty Rhythm, “a luxuriant dive into the world of jazz and love.”
Member News
NBCC board member May-lee Chai won the 2022 Gulf Coast Prize for Nonfiction for her essay “Revolutionary Acts.”
NBCC board member Ruben Quesada’s poem “Oath Keeper” appeared in the New York Times Magazine. In addition, Quesada was named one of New City Chicago’s LIT50 for this year.
“The Reading List in Morning” photo by NBCC member W. Scott Olsen. Used with permission.

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