Critical Notes

Reviews and More From NBCC Members

By Jennie Hann

An assortment of books

Greetings, NBCC Friends,

TONS of reviews, interviews, and pieces of good news from our members to report this week. As always, thanks for sharing and reading!!

In the Spotlight

Diary of a Misfit: A Memoir and a Mystery by Casey Parks

Parks, a reporter at The Washington Post, earned a starred review from Publishers Weekly for this “tantalizing blend of personal history and reportage,” which recounts the author’s efforts to “seek out the story of an enigmatic small-town country singer” and “reckon with her own fraught past.” The New York Times Book Reviewdescribed the book as “at once dewy-eyed and diligent, capricious and capacious, empathetic and exacting.”

Our reviewers agreed. Robert Allen Papinchak, writing in The Oregonian, compared reading the book to “assembling a double-sided jigsaw puzzle”: “sometimes maddening, sometimes exhilarating, ultimately rewarding.” Meanwhile, in The Boston GlobeLauren LeBlanc hailed it as “an immersive, expansive look at the world of small-town life” in the Deep South as well as “a loving and unflinching portrait of a search for community.”

Member Reviews/Essays

NBCC board member J. Howard Rosier reviewed Carlos Manuel Álvarez’s The Tribe: Portraits of Cuba, translated from the Spanish by Frank Wynne with Rahul Bery, for Words Without Borders.

Former NBCC board member Mark Athitakis reviewed Anthony Marra’s latest novel, Mercury Pictures Presents, for Alta Online.

Former NBCC Emerging Critic Natalia Holtzman reviewed the novel An Evening of Romantic Lovemaking by Ben Slotky for On The Seawall.

Former NBCC Emerging Critic Rishi Reddi reviewed Dhumketu’s Shehnai Virtuoso, translated by Jenny Bhatt, for Words Without Borders.

Edna Bonhomme reviewed Farrah Jasmine Griffin’s Read Until You Understand: The Profound Wisdom of Black Life and Literature for The Nation.

Katrina Gulliver reviewed John Wood Sweet’s The Sewing Girl’s Tale for The Times (London).

Julian Lucas reviewed cultural theorist Kobena Mercer’s new book, Alain Locke and the Visual Arts, in conjunction with video artist Isaac Julien’s installation “Once Again . . . (Statues Never Die)” for The New Yorker online.

Kathryn Ma reviewed Jamie Ford’s The Many Daughters of Afong Moy and Margo Candela’s The Neapolitan Sisters, both for the San Francisco Chronicle.

Victoria Chang and Dean Rader discussed Best Barbarian by Roger Reevesin their “Two Roads” column for the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Heather Green reviewed Coral Bracho’s It Must Be a Misunderstanding, translated from the Spanish by Forrest GanderNina Mingya Powles’s Magnolia; and Lisa Robertson’s Boat, all for the Poetry Foundation’s Harriet Books.

Betsy Groban wrote about the reopening of the Emily Dickinson House in Amherst, MA, for the travel section of The Boston Globe.

Melissa Holbrook Pierson reviewed Animal Joy: A Book of Laughter, poet and psychoanalyst Nuar Alsadir’s first work of nonfiction, for The Washington Post.

Julia M. Klein reviewed Olivier Guez’s novel The Disappearance of Josef Mengele, translated from the French by Georgia de Chamberet, for TheForward.

Priscilla Gilman reviewed Babysitter by Joyce Carol Oates for TheBoston Globe.

Dana Wilde reviewed Gillian Burnes’s novel about a public radio reporter, Soft Features, in his “Off Radar” column for the Central Maine Newspapers.

W. Scott Olsen reviewed Course of the Empire by Ken Light and Seeing Light: The Beauty of the World’s Most Quiet Places by Pete McBride, both for Frames Magazine.

Charles Green reviewed Andrew F. Nazzaro’s Saratoga Turning Point: The Shot that Gave Birth to a Nation! for Blueink Review.

Nell Beram reviewed Alice Sedgwick Wohl’s As It Turns Out: Thinking About Edie and Andy and Rebecca Woolf’s All of This: A Memoir of Death and Desire, both for Shelf Awareness.

Cassandra Whitaker reviewed Gretchen Felker-Martin’s Manhunt through the lens of Hil Malatino’s Side Affects: Being Trans and Feeling Bad for beestung.

Robert Allen Papinchak reviewed Amina Akhtar’s Kismet and Alice Feeney’s Daisy Darker, both for Mystery Scene Magazine.

Member Interviews

Former NBCC Emerging Critic Natalia Holtzman interviewed Sarah Thankam Mathews about her debut novel, All This Could Be Different, for the August cover of Kirkus Reviews.

Martha Anne Toll interviewed Michael Bourne about his debut novel, Blithedale Canyon, “an inside look at mid-life love and the slow crawl out of addiction,” for Bloom Magazine.

Theodore Kinni interviewed Roger Martin about his book A New Way to Think: Your Guide to Superior Management Effectiveness for strategy+business.

W. Scott Olsen interviewed Colin Charles Harris for the Frames Magazinepodcast series.

Member News

With the support of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, former NBCC treasurer and autobiography finalist Rigoberto González will be editing Latino Poetry: A New Anthology for the Library of America. The volume is the centerpiece of a new public humanities initiative on Latino Poetry planned for 2024-25, with events to be held across the country.

Philip Belcher’s new collection of poetry, Gentle Slaughter, published by MadHat Press, is now available for pre-order here.

Hélène Cardona participated in the first of a series of three bilingual readings for Women in Translation sponsored by PEN America, presenting her translations of Hungarian poet Lea Nagy.

Lydia Pyne’s new book, Endlings: Fables for the Anthropocene, has just been published by the University of Minnesota Press.

Two screenplays co-written by Mary Mackey and Renee De Palma have been nominated for the City of Angels Women’s Film Festival Awards in the Written Words category: Lady Danger for Full Feature Screenplay and Time Piece for Short Film Script.

Kevin Blankinship helped create a choir concerto based on eleventh-century poet, freethinker, and alleged Muslim heretic al-Ma’arri’s book Self-Imposed Necessity. You can read more about the project and listen to a sample recording here.

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Photo by Dom J