Critical Notes

Reviews and More From NBCC Members

By Halima Elmajdoubi

Comp image with book covers

Last Tuesday, we announced the finalists for the 2022 National Book Critics Circle Awards! Congratulations to all who were selected. If you missed the event, you can watch it her. You can also find a list of the finalists and special award winners here.

Stay tuned for more information regarding our in-person award ceremony on March 23, where we will celebrate the finalists and winners!

And please check out our 30 Books series, featuring original reviews of the finalists by our prize judges. The series begins today, with May-lee Chai on Linea Nigra by Jazmina Barrera, trans. by Christina McSweeney. Chai calls Barrera’s essay collection about art and pregnancy “confident and beautiful,” and notes that as people’s reproductive rights are threatened around the globe, the book feels “not only timely but also revolutionary.”


Julia M. Klein reviewed Richard Hurowitz’s In the Garden of Righteousness for the Forward.

For the Washington Post, Roxana Robinson reviewed Forbidden Notebook by Alba de Céspedes.

For the New York Times, Tobias Carroll reviewed a trio of books set in NYC.

Nichole LeFebvre reviewed Li Strömquist’s The Reddest Rose, translated by Melissa Bowers for Words without Borders.

For the Baffler, Kristen Martin profiled the late Adina Talve-Goodman and her essay collection Your Hearts, Your Scars.

Tahneer Oksman reviewed Timothy Goodman’s I Always Think It’s Forever for the Washington Post.

For the Post and Courier, Bill Thompson reviewed Cullen Murphy’s Just Passing Through, A Seven-Decade Roman Holiday: The Diaries and Photographs of Milton Gendel.

Dana Wilde reviewed Robert Gibbons’ poetry collection Old Orchard Beach Cycle for Off Radar.

For the Washington Independent, Ellen Prentiss Campbell profiled sculptor Anne Truitt and her fourth and final journal, Yield: The Journal of an Artist.

For Publisher’s Weekly, former board member Susan Shapiro wrote on Prince Harry’s memoir Spare in relation to her memoir Five Men Who Broke My Heart.

Colin Asher wrote an introduction for a new edition of Nelson Algren’s The Man with the Golden Arm, released by Seven Stories Press on January 31, 2023.

In the Spotlight

Martin Riker’s second novel, The Guest Lecture, examines the mind of a young academic during the sleepless night before she is to deliver a lecture on the economist John Maynard Keynes. Dwight Garner, in his review for the New York Times, describes Riker as a “noticer,” comparable to novelist Nicholson Baker. Dan Kubis likens the book to work by Samuel Beckett, W.H. Auden, and Virginia Woolf in his review for the Chicago Review of Books. Maggie Lange further commends the novel for “[bursting] with philosophy, jokes, factoids, tense academic social dynamics and fragments of formative memory” in her review for the Washington Post.


For America Domani, Ian MacAllen spoke with Luca Cesari about his new book The Discovery of Pasta: A History in Ten Dishes.

Joyce Saenz Harris talked to mystery writer Deborah Crombie about her new novel A Killing of Innocents for the Dallas Morning News.

For Interabang Books, Board member Lori Feathers and Across the Pond podcast co-host Sam Jordinson talk to Maddie Mortimer about her Goldsmiths Prize shortlisted novel Maps of our Spectacular Bodies.

For InsideHook, Tobias Carroll spoke with Jamie Kreiner about maintaining concentration in the modern world, and her new book The Wandering Mind: What Medieval Monks Tell Us About Distraction.

Member News

NBCC lifetime member Greg Sarris has been elected Chair of the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian.

SEND US YOUR STUFF: To have your work featured in the weekly Critical Notes, please send your bylines to We would be grateful if you would limit submissions to no more than four per week. Please be sure to include the author and full title, the publication, and a working link, along with your name and pronouns. If applicable, please include your twitter handle and we will try to share your work via @bookcritics as our resources allow.

For Galley Bag, please send info and notes on forthcoming books that have piqued your interest, with pub dates at least three months out. 

SEND US YOUR STUFF: To have your work featured in the weekly Critical Notes, please join the NBCC.


Halima Elmajdoubi is an intern for the NBCC