Critical Notes

Reviews and More From NBCC Members

By Michael Schaub

Friends, we hope you’re having a good fall so far! Our members have been spending the season reading and writing, with reviews of new books by authors including Teju Cole, Lydia Davis, Justin Torres, and Patti Hartigan, and interviews with writers like Jonathan Eig, Safiya Sinclair, and Ayana Mathis. Stay safe, and as always, thanks for reading!

Member Reviews/Essays

Julian Lucas reviewed Teju Cole’s Tremor for The New Yorker.

Cory Oldweiler wrote about Ismail Kadare’s A Dictator Calls, translated by John Hodgson, for the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Celia McGee wrote in The New York Times about The Brownies’ Book, the first magazine for Black children, founded in 1920 by W.E.B. DuBois and Jessie Redmon Fauset, and a new anthology that celebrates it.

NBCC board member May-lee Chai reviewed Curtis Chin’s memoir Everything I Learned, I Learned in a Chinese Restaurant for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Tahneer Oksman reviewed Sharee Miller’s Curlfriends: New In Town for NPR.

For those weighing whether to take the plunge into Jon Fosse’s Septology, the Nobel winner’s daunting but rewarding magnum opus, NBCC board member David Varno wrote about a handful of “gateway” books by Thomas Bernhard, Javier Marías, and others. The column ran in Publishers Weekly’s new newsletter, PW Picks

Tiffany Troy reviewed Daniel Magariel’s Walk the Darkness Down for the Hong Kong Review of Books.

Nell Beram reviewed three books for Shelf Awareness: A.K.A. Lucy: The Dynamic and Determined Life of Lucille Ball by Sarah Royal; American Demon: Eliot Ness and the Hunt for America’s Jack the Ripper by Daniel Stashower; and Down and Out in Paradise: The Life of Anthony Bourdain by Charles Leerhsen.

Edith Matthias wrote about 10 books by Latino/a/x authors for The National Book Review.

Jenny Shank reviewed The House of Doors by Tan Twan Eng for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Arden Levine reviewed The Beloved Community, the new collection from newly appointed New York State Poet Patricia Spears Jones, for Green Linden Press.

Linda Hitchcock reviewed Sujata Massey’s ​​The Mistress of Bhatia House and Alexander McCall Smith’s The Discreet Charm of the Big Bad Wolf for BookTrib.

Former NBCC board member Mark Athitakis reviewed Lydia Davis’ new story collection, Our Strangers, for the Los Angeles Times.

For The Red Hook Star-Revue, Michael Quinn reviewed The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store by James McBride.

Shani Friedman reviewed Jewish Flavours Of Italy, A Family Cookbook by Silvia Nacamulli for TC Jewfolk.

Nan Cohen reviewed Sleeping As Fast As I Can by Richard Michelson for the Jewish Book Council.

Jeffrey Mannix reviewed Distant Sons by Tim Johnston for his Murder Ink column in the Durango Telegraph, covering southwest Colorado and the Four Corners of the Southwest.

Charles Green reviewed Christopher Byrne’s A Man of Much Importance: The Art and Life of Terrence McNally for DC Theater Arts.

Scott Manning wrote about publicizing Mark Bowden’s Black Hawk Down for AARP Veteran Report.

Megan Milks reviewed Justin Torres’ Blackouts for 4Columns.

NBCC member Brian Tanguay reviewed August Wilson: A Life by Patti Hartigan for the California Review of Books.

On My Machberet, Erika Dreifus hosts the latest iteration—a special solidarity installment—of the Jewish Book Carnival, an endeavor organized by the Association of Jewish Libraries where those who cover Jewish books online “can meet, read, and comment on each others’ posts.”

Lanie Tankard reviewed The Last Language by Jennifer duBois for The Woven Tale Press.

Christopher Lancette reviewed Adam Welz’s The End of Eden: Wild Nature In The Age of Climate Breakdown for the Washington Independent Review of Books.

Bill Thompson reviewed Raynor Winn’s Landlines: The Remarkable Story of a Thousand-Mile Journey Across Britain for the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier.

Alex Gurtis reviewed Ross White’s Charmed Offensive for Barrelhouse.

Member Interviews

NBCC Vice President/Fundraising Anita Felicelli talked to Myriam Gurba, Edan Lepucki, and Reyna Grande about their workspaces and writing habits and rituals for Alta.

Christopher Lancette interviewed Jonathan Eig about his newest book, King: A Life—airing on C-SPAN’s Book TV from the Gaithersburg Book Festival in Gaithersburg, Md.

Grant Faulkner interviewed Helen Macdonald and Sin Blaché on the Write-minded podcast.

NBCC board member and Vice President/Barrios Book in Translation Prize Mandana Chaffa interviewed Safiya Sinclair about How to Say Babylon for The Millions

Former NBCC board member Mark Athitakis interviewed Ayana Mathis about her new novel, The Unsettled, for Kirkus Reviews.

NBCC Vice President/Events Jane Ciabattari talked with Daniel Gumbiner about wildfires, winemaking, and writing fiction for Literary Hub.

NBCC Vice President/Emerging Critics Fellowship and Online Michael Schaub interviewed Scott Von Doviak for the Orange County Register.

Member News

NBCC lifetime member Parul Kapur’s short-story, “Geronimo!,” about an impending bi-cultural marriage in the new South, appears in the fall 2023 issue of Ploughshares.

Susan Shapiro’s book about the Jan. 6 insurrection, American Shield, co-authored with Sgt. Aquilino Gonell, will be published on Nov. 7 by Counterpoint. The book was launched with a viral New York Times essay by Gonell, and has received advance reviews from Kirkus Reviews, Library Journal, and Booklist. There will be a Zoom launch for the book on Nov. 20.

Amy Yee’s Far from the Rooftop of the World: Travels among Tibetan Refugees on Four Continents, featuring a foreword by the Dalai Lama, will be published on Oct. 17 by the University of North Carolina Press. 

Former NBCC board member Rod Davis’ new novel about GIs and working girls in Vietnam-era South Korea, The Life of Kim and the Behavior of Men, has been announced for publication in April 2024. Reviewers interested in the book can contact Madville Publishing for a review copy.

Colin Asher contributed a foreword to a new edition of Nelson Algren’s The Neon Wilderness, which was published last week by Seven Stories Press.

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