Critical Notes

Reviews and More From NBCC Members

By Chelsea Leu

Stack of books

Dear NBCC Members,

We hope you’re all curling up with a good book as the weather cools down. And we’d like to wish a hearty congratulations to Vivian Gornick, three-time NBCC finalist in autobiography and criticism, who will receive the Paris Review’s 2023 Hadada award for lifetime achievement.

In the Spotlight

In her first novel in 10 years, A.M. Homes takes on politics in The Unfolding, which is told from the perspective of a white middle-aged Republican donor who helps hatch a plot to disrupt Obama’s presidency after his election in 2008. As with any hot-button issue, our critics were sharply split. In Oprah Daily, Lauren LeBlanc called it “a propulsive book of conversations and confessions that reveal brittle truths about the ways politics and history divide our country.” Meanwhile, Marion Winik writes in the Minneapolis Star Tribune that the novel tracks the meetings and conversations of “the Boring Old Man club” with “truly stultifying detail.”

Member Reviews and Essays

NBCC Emerging Critic Layla Benitez-James reviewed Julia Cimafiejeva’s Motherfield: Poems and Belarusian Protest Diary,Ama Codjoe’s Bluest Nude, imogen xtian smith’s stemmy things, and Jenny Liou’s Muscle Memory for Poetry Foundation’s Harriet Books. 

NBCC Emerging Critic Kathy Chow reviewed Ryan Lee Wong’s Which Side Are You On for Astra.

NBCC Treasurer-in-Exile Marion Winik wrote a journal of her trip to Vietnam for the Baltimore Fishbowl. She also reviewed Emma Donoghue’s Haven and Elisa Bernick’s Departure Notes for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, as well as Ellen Meister’s Take My Husband for Newsday.

Former NBCC board member Mary Ann Gwinn wrote an appreciation of the life and work of Hilary Mantel for the Los Angeles Times.

Former board member Tom Beer wrote about reading Annie Ernaux, winner of the 2022 Nobel Prize in literature, for Kirkus Reviews.

Former NBCC board member Mark Athitakis reviewed Rachel Aviv’s Strangers to Ourselves for On the Seawall.

Nichole LeFebvre
reviewed fellow NBCC member Lisa Russ Spaar’s novel Paradise Close for The Adroit Journal.

Mark Weingarten
reviewed Hua Hsu’s Stay True and Allen Pietrobon’s Norman Cousins
for the Wall Street Journal.

V. Joshua Adams
reviewed the NYRB Classics reissue of The Enormous Room by E.E. Cummings for Annulet.

Tobias Carroll
reviewed Bill Roorbach’s new novel Lucky Turtle for the Portland Press Herald and recommended October books in translation for Words Without Borders.

Edna Bonhomme
wrote about books that illuminate “the role that racism has played in fostering the spread of diseases” for Africa Is a Country.

Hamilton Cain
reviewed George Saunders’s Liberation Day for the Boston Globe.

Jay Gabler
wrote a feature about how the nonprofit organization Lake Superior Writers came to the rescue of the orphaned Northeastern Minnesota Book Awards for the Duluth News Tribune.

Paul Wilner
reviewed Erik Tarloff’s novel Tell Me The Truth About Love for ZYZZYVA.

Wayne Catan
reviewed Juan José Millás’s Let No One Sleep for On TheSeawall.

Patricia Schultheis
reviewed Yiyun Li’s The Book of Goose for the Washington Independent Review of Books.

Alexander Pyles
reviewed The Sleepless by Victor Manibo for the Ancillary Review of Books.

Oline H. Cogdill
reviewed Lavender House by Lev AC Rosen for the South Florida Sun Sentinel and recommended fall mystery novels for Mystery and Thriller Mavens.

Lanie Tankard
reviewed Pina by Mā’ohi author Titaua Peu for The Woven Tale Press.

Ron Slate
reviewed Among the Almond Trees, a memoir by Hussein Barghouthi and Rose Royal, a novel by Nicolas Mathieu, for On The Seawall.

Member Interviews
NBCC VP/Events Jane Ciabattari interviewed Lydia Millet, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award, about her new novel Dinosaurs, for Lit Hub.

NBCC board member Lori Feathers and co-host Sam Jordison talk to Steve Stern about his latest novel, The Village Idiot, about painter Chaim Soutine’s unconventional life on their “Across the Pond” podcast.

Elaine Szewczyk interviewed American Psycho author Bret Easton Ellis about his new novel The Shards for Publishers Weekly.

Erik Gleibermann interviewed Cleyvis Natera and Naima Coster for an essay on Afro-Dominican women novelists in Oprah Daily.

Costa B. Pappas interviewed Gabriel Cholette about his debut memoir Scenes from the Underground for Observer.

Patrick Davis interviewed Wayne Koestenbaum about his recently completed trilogy of “trance notebooks”The Pink Trance NotebooksCamp Marmalade, and Ultramarine—for Harvard Review.

Anne Charles
interviewed playwright Lydia Stryk about her debut novel The Teacher’s Room on the Vermont cable access show All Things LGBTQ.

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