Critical Notes

Reviews and More From NBCC Members

By David Varno

Photo of an open book on a worn hardwood floor.

As we dig our way out of the empty champagne bottles and dried-up pine needles, our trenches of galleys remain. Here’s to a new year of new books and engaging dialogue.

First, though, let’s tie up a couple loose ends from 2022 for our double post-holiday edition.

We were delighted to see that eight of the 11 critics whose work made Lit Hub’s 10 best book reviews of the year were NBCC members: board members Adam Dalva and Chelsea Leu, former board member and poetry prize chair Victoria Chang, biography prize finalist Maggie Doherty, Balakian winner Merve Emre, Emerging Critic Summer Farah, and longtime members Nicole Le Febre and Dean Rader.

For Kirkus Reviews, former board member Tom Beer wrote about his year-end reading, including The Escape Artist: The Man Who Broke Out of Auschwitz To Warn the World by Jonathan Freedland and Mr. B: George Balanchine’s 20th Century by Jennifer Homans. 

And last but not least, we’re excited to share the results of last month’s NBCC board election. New and returning board members include Jacob M. Appel, Colette Bancroft, Jane Ciabattari, Lauren LeBlanc, Marie Myung-Ok Lee, J. Howard Rosier, Michael Schaub, and David Woo. Congrats to all, and thanks to all who ran and voted in the election. 

In the Spotlight

Bariloche, the debut novel from Andrés Neuman and the author’s latest in translation from Robin Myers, begins with a prologue by Roberto Bolaño that previously appeared in Bolaño’s posthumous collection Between Parentheses.

While editing Publishers Weekly’s review of Bariloche, I was tickled to find I’d marked up Bolaño’s appreciation of Neuman when I read it 12 years ago. Long may we live in the “dream of great literature.”

—David Varno, NBCC VP/Online

Hamilton Cain reviewed Tom Crewe’s The New Life for the Washington Post.
George De Stefano reviewed Ain’t But a Few of Us: Black Music Writers Tell Their Story, edited by Willard Jenkins, for the New York Journal of Books:
Yvonne C. Garrett reviewed Joy Harjo’s Catching the Light and Haruki Murakami’s Novelist as Vocation for the Brooklyn Rail.
Sheila McClear reviewed Cho Nam-Joo’s “Saha” for the Los Angeles Review of Books.
Marion Winik reviewed The Easy Life by Marguerite Duras for the Washington Post.
Lauren Leblanc wrote an essay on Sarah Polley’s adaptation of Miriam Toews’s Women Talking for Oprah Daily.
Nell Beram reviewed The Lemon by S.E. Boyd and No One Left to Come Looking for You by Sam Lipsyte for Shelf Awareness.
John Domini reviewed Alyssa Quinn’s experimental novel Habilis and Helen Dewitt’s novella The English Understand Wool for the Brooklyn Rail. Domini also reviewed Christine Sneed’s Please Be Advised for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
Jim Schley reviewed Peter Orner’s Still No Word from You for Seven Days.

Ben Yagoda reviewed Jerry Seinfeld’s The Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee Book for the Wall Street Journal
Paul Wilner reviewed Greil Marcus’s Folk Music: A Bob Dylan Biography
in Seven Songs

Frank Freeman reviewed Reflections of a Nonpolitical Man and The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann for America Magazine and His Masterly Pen: A Biography of Jefferson the Writer by Fred Kaplan for Maine Sunday Telegram.
Linda Hitchcock reviewed The Seamstress of Sardinia by Bianca Pitzorno for BookTrib.
Nan Cohen published a critical essay on Eavan Boland in Poetry Ireland Review.
Dana Wilde reviewed Stephen King’s Fairy Tale in his Off Radar column for the Central Maine newspapers.
The NBCC’s VP/Events Jane Ciabattari talked with Rae Meadows about her new novel, Winterland, set in the golden age of Soviet gymnastics, for Lit Hub.
For Alta, David Ulin interviews Isabel Allende and looks back at her first novel, House of the Spirits.
Marion Winik spoke with the very cool indie filmmaker Hal Hartley about his first novel, for Kirkus Reviews.
Kevin Brown reviewed Stendhal’s Red and Black: A Chronicle of 1830 for Rain Taxi
Paul Wilner interviewed Emil DeAndreis about his new novel, Tell Us When To Go, for the Nob Hill Gazette.
NBCC board member Lori Feathers and Sam Jordison talked with Cristina Rivera Garza on the Across the Pond podcast about Rivera Garza’s New and Selected Short Stories.
Member News
Jim Ruland’s Corporate Rock Sucks: The Rise & Fall of SST Records was named a best book of 2022 by Pitchfork and Vanity Fair. 
Roberto Garcia’s What Can I Tell You? Selected Poems is out now from Flowersong Press, and was featured in a list of collections by Latinx and Caribbean writers at Electric Lit.

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Photo by Daniela Constantini