Critical Notes

Reviews and More From NBCC Members

By Michael Schaub

Friends and members, we hope you’re having a great December! In case you missed it, last week, we announced the longlist for the 2023 Barrios Book in Translation Prize, which celebrates the artistic merit of literature in translation in any genre and seeks to recognize the valuable work of translators in expanding and enriching literary culture by bringing world literature to English-language readers. You can check out the longlist here.

We’d also like to remind you that our fundraising drive has been extended to the end of the year! As a token of our appreciation, we are sending donors who contribute $50 or more, new NBCC t-shirts featuring original artwork by a New York artist. Donors who contribute $1,000 or more at the VIP level will receive a mention in our awards program in the coming year and will also be thanked from the stage of the awards in March 2024. We hope you’ll give generously here, or by texting books to +16507196917!

Critical Notes will be on break next week, but we’ll be back on Tuesday, Jan. 2, with more member reviews, interviews, news, and more. Thanks to all of you for your support in 2023—stay safe, keep reading, and we hope you have a happy New Year!

Member Reviews/Essays

Tahneer Oksman reviewed Élodie Durand’s Transitions: A Mother’s Journey for NPR.

Dan Kois wrote about the 10 best literary rediscoveries of 2023 for Slate.

Carole V. Bell wrote about Percival Everett’s biting satirical novel Erasure and American Fiction, the acclaimed new film it inspired. She also contributed multiple entries about her favorite books across genres to the 2023 edition of NPR’s Books We Love

Danielle Amir Jackson reviewed Gabriel Bump’s The New Naturals for The Atlantic.

Karl Wolff reviewed Bird Life by Anna Smaill for The Driftless Area Review.

Grace Talusan’s essay “The Haunted” appeared in The Seventh Wave.

Kristen Martin reviewed Paul Lynch’s Prophet Song for NPR.

Audrey Shipp reviewed Safiya Sinclair’s How to Say Babylon for Litro Magazine USA.

Diane Josefowicz contributed five books from independent presses to Necessary Fiction‘s annual roundup: At the Edge of the Woods by Kathryn Bromwich; Wall by Jen Craig; After Sappho by Selby Wynn Schwartz; It’s the End of the World, My Love by Alla Gorbunova, translated by Elina Alter; and Pretend It’s My Body: Stories by Luke Dani Blue. 

Jake Casella Brookins reviewed The Museum of Human History by Rebekah Bergman for Locus.

Cory Oldweiler reviewed Sara Gallardo’s January, translated by Francis Riddle and Maureen Shaughnessy, for the Southwest Review.

Randy Cepuch reviewed Kenneth Womack’s Living the Beatles Legend: The Untold Story of Mal Evans for the Washington Independent Review of Books.

Tobias Carroll reviewed Cadwell Turnbull’s We Are the Crisis for, wrote about Gene Wolfe and politics in fiction for The Hobbyhorse, and put together a list of his 10 favorite books of 2023 for InsideHook.

Tiffany Troy reviewed Nancy Naomi Carlson’s poetry collection Piano in the Dark for the Colorado Review.

Diane Scharper’s recommendation of The Complete Short Stories of Flannery O’Connor appeared in the Washington Examiner.

Joan Silverman reviewed Kate Christensen’s Welcome Home, Stranger, for the Portland Press Herald.

For The Red Hook Star-Revue, Michael Quinn reviewed Brooklyn Arcadia: Art, History, and Nature at Majestic Green-Wood by Andrew Garn.

Kai Maristed reviewed The Archive of Feelings by Peter Stamm, translated by Michael Hoffmann, and Die Enkelin by Bernhard Schlink for The Arts Fuse.

Ladane Nasseri wrote about Salar Abdoh’s A Nearby Country Called Love for Electric Literature.

For the Duluth News Tribune, Jay Gabler reviewed three new holiday titles: the Folio Society’s The Night Before Christmas, Jeff Belanger’s The Fright Before Christmas, and Phaidon’s The Christmas Book.

Rhoda Feng reviewed Anthony Veasna So’s Songs on Endless Repeat: Essays and Outtakes for the Los Angeles Times.

Lanie Tankard reviewed Nadia by Christine Evans for The Woven Tale Press.

Jim Scott reviewed The Climate Book by Greta Thunberg; Climate Change: A Very Short Introduction by Mark Maslin; and On Bullshit by Harry G. Frankfurt for the Wellington Square Bookshop website.

NBCC Vice President/Emerging Critics Fellowship and Online Michael Schaub reviewed Gabriel Bump’s The New Naturals for The Boston Globe.

Member Interviews

Feroz Rather interviewed Siddhartha Deb about his new novel, The Light at the End of the World, for The Nation.

Rhoda Feng interviewed Christina Sharpe for The Nation.

Ladane Nasseri interviewed Salar Abdoh for Electric Literature.

NBCC Vice President/Events Jane Ciabattari’s Literary Hub conversation with Kate Christensen about her new novel, Welcome Home, Stranger, covered the challenges of returning to Maine after half a lifetime away.

For Publishers Weekly, Carole V. Bell spoke with author Ijeoma Oluo about her forthcoming book, Be a Revolution, in which she talks about shifting the national conversation on race from a place of trauma to one of loving action. She also interviewed six influential creatives—authors and editors—making waves in the romance genre for a feature on the progress and challenges faced by Black voices in publishing. 

Tobias Carroll interviewed Sam Wasson about his new Francis Ford Coppola biography, The Path to Paradise, for InsideHook.

Tamara MC interviewed Christina Ward about Holy Food: How Cults, Commune, and Religious Movements Influenced What We Eat, An American History for the EcoTheo Collective.

NBCC Vice President/Emerging Critics Fellowship and Online Michael Schaub interviewed Daniel Gumbiner for the Orange County Register.

Member News

NBCC Emerging Critics Fellow Hantian Zhang’s new essay, “Summer Blues,” is appearing in the Spring 2023 edition of Prairie Schooner.

Nicholas Birns’ new book, The Literary Role of History in the Fiction of J. R. R. Tolkien, is just out from Routledge.