Critical Notes

Reviews and More From NBCC Members

By Michael Schaub

We hope you’re having a good spring! Our members have been busy writing reviews of books by authors including Brandon Taylor, Ava Chin, Katy Kelleher, Jane Wong, Claire Dederer, and more, and interviewing writers like Kay Redfield Jamison, Maya C. Popa, and Héctor Tobar. We’ve also got some really great news from members that we’re excited to share. Take care, and thanks for reading!

Member Reviews and Essays

For Kirkus Reviews, former NBCC President Tom Beer wrote about fiction set in the movie world, including Tom Hanks’ The Making of Another Major Motion Picture Masterpiece and Sammy Harkham’s Blood of the Virgin.

For the Letras Latinas Blog 2, Alfredo Aguilar and Laura Villareal reviewed Dream of Xibalba by Stephanie Adams-Santos.

Claude Peck reviewed Brandon Taylor’s second novel, The Late Americans, for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Joan Frank reviewed Elizabeth Benedict’s Rewriting Illness for The Boston Globe.

The summer issue of LIBER is out, and includes Jennifer Baumgardner writing about Stella Waitzkin and Charis Caputo writing about artists’ models.

Farah Abdessamad wrote an essay about Elias Canetti for The Nation.

For BBC Culture, NBCC Vice President//Events Jane Ciabattari wrote about the escalation of book bans in the U.S., especially in young adult books.

Julia Flynn Siler reviewed Ava Chin’s Mott Street: A Chinese American Family’s Story of Exclusion and Homecoming for The Wall Street Journal.

Julia M. Klein reviewed Joseph Berger’s Elie Wiesel: Confronting the Silence for the Forward.

NPR book critics wrote about books they’re excited to read this summer. Contributors include NBCC members Barbara J. King, Martha Anne Toll, Tahneer Oksman, Ilana Masad, Heller McAlpin, Carole Bell, Kristen Martin, Keishel A. Williams, Lily Meyer, and Michael Schaub.

Iris Jamahl Dunkle reviewed Rapture and Melancholy: The Diaries of Edna St. Vincent Millay, edited by Daniel Mark Epstein, for the Colorado Review.

Dan Kois wrote about a scandal involving the late Martin Amis for Slate.

Cassandra Whitaker reviewed Miah Jeffra’s American Gospel for The Lambda Literary Review.

Valerie Duff-Strautmann reviewed Jorie Graham’s [To] the Last [Be] Human and Berndette Mayer’s Milkweed Smithereens for Arrowsmith Journal.

Nell Beram reviewed four books for Shelf Awareness: Don’t Call Me Home by Alexandra Auder; The Girl by the Bridge by Arnaldur Indridason; Viviana Valentine Goes Up the River by Emily J. Edwards; and We Are Too Many: A Memoir [Kind Of] by Hannah Pittard.

Joan Silverman reviewed Katy Kelleher’s The Ugly History of Beautiful Thingsfor The Portland Press Herald.

Jeremy Lybarger reviewed Ian Penman’s Fassbinder Thousands of Mirrors for The Baffler

Sarah McCraw Crow reviewed four books for BookPage: Jane Wong’s Meet Me Tonight in Atlantic City; Claire Dederer’s Monsters: A Fan’s Dilemma; Alice Winn’s In Memoriam; and Emilia Hart’s Weyward.

Linda Hitchcock reviewed Marie Bostwick’s Esme Cahill Fails Spectacularly for BookTrib.

NBCC Vice President/Emerging Critics Fellowship and Online Michael Schaub wrote about how reading helped him survive a mental health crisis for The Boston Globe.

Member Interviews

Clea Simon spoke with Kay Redfield Jamison for “The Story Behind the Book” for The Boston Globe.

NBCC board member Mandana Chaffa interviewed Maya C. Popa about her book Wound is the Origin of Wonder for BOMB.

Julia Flynn Siler interviewed New Yorker staff writer Judith Thurman about her latest book, A Left-Handed Woman, at San Francisco’s Mechanics Institute.

Jim Ruland spoke to Belfast writer Michael Magee about his new novel Close to Home for the Los Angeles Times.

NBCC Vice President/Emerging Critics Fellowship and Online Michael Schaub interviewed Jeff Boyd and Héctor Tobar for the Orange County Register.

Member News

Some exciting news from our friends at Biographers International Organization (BIO)! NBCC member Kitty Kelley has donated $1 million to the group, and former NBCC board member Steve Paul has been elected as the organization’s president. Steve said that Kitty’s gift “not only affirms our growing presence on the literary landscape, but it challenges us to become even more useful and responsive to our current and future members.”

And Kitty said, “Reading and writing biographies have enriched my life, and so I hope my endowment will enable BIO to continue sharing the gifts of life stories. For me, literacy is the foundation for a life of joy and purpose, and so this gift underwrites the future of Biographers International Organization to continue sharing that joy and purpose far into the future.”

BIO, at its annual conference on May 20, gave its Plutarch Award for best biography of 2022 to Jennifer Homans for Mr. B: George Balanchine’s 20th Century, which was a finalist for the NBCC Award for Biography. Steve also recently served as a judge on a Society of Midland Authors committee, which awarded the annual prize for best biography or memoir to Sofia Samatar for The White Mosque: A Memoir.

Some more exciting news: Our friends at LIBERhave been nominated for a Firecracker Award for Best Debut Magazine! LIBER editor in chief Jennifer Baumgardner and senior editor Charis Caputo, both NBCC members, said, “We are so honored to be recognized alongside four other intrepid indie magazines.”

Martin H. Levinson’s collection of satires, Lunch with the American People: Satirical Food for Thought (NeoPoiesis Press, 2023), was nominated for the S.I Hayakawa Prize, a literary award sponsored by the Institute of General Semantics.

Photo of Loganberry Books in Cleveland by Tim Evanson via Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0.