Critical Notes

Reviews and More From NBCC Members

By Michael Schaub

Friends, we hope you had a wonderful holiday season, and are having a great 2024 so far! Our members kept busy the last few weeks of 2023 with reviews of books by authors including Viktoria Lloyd-Barlow, Barbra Streisand, Michael Chang, Melissa Rivero, and Alice McDermott, and interviews with writers such as Michelle Tea, Ye Chun, and Louise Kennedy. We hope the new year brings you peace and happiness, and as always, thanks for reading!

Member Reviews/Essays

Daneet Steffens contributed to the Best of 2023 Fiction, and reviewed Viktoria Lloyd-Barlow’s All the Little Bird-Hearts, for The Boston Globe.

Christoph Irmscher reviewed Clark Davis’ God’s Scrivener: The Madness and Meaning of Jones Very for The Wall Street Journal.

Chris Barsanti reviewed four graphic novelsWorm by Edel Rodriguez, My Brilliant Friend: The Graphic Novel by Elena Ferrante, Artificial: A Love Story by Amy Kurzweil, and Hip Hop Family Tree: The Omnibus by Ed Piskor—for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Kitty Kelley reviewed Ed Owens’ After Elizabeth: Can the Monarchy Save Itself?for the Washington Independent Review of Books.

Linda Hitchcock reviewed Barbra Streisand’s My Name is Barbra and Sonja Swift’s Echo Loba Loba Echo for BookTrib.

Eric Liebetrau wrote about Katherine Rye Jewell’s Live From the Underground: A History of College Radio and Jonathan Stathakis’ Jimi and Me: The Experience of a Lifetime for Kirkus Reviews.

Bill Thompson reviewed John Keahey’s Following Caesarfor Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier.

Publishers Weekly ran a roundup of seven books from 2023 that you shouldn’t miss, featuring NBCC members Meg Lemke, Conner Reed, and David Varno. And Meg, PW’s graphic novels reviews editor, compiled the magazine’s critics poll for comics/graphic novels.

NBCC Vice President/Fundraising Anita Felicelli wrote an introductory essay to Carribean Fragoza’s short story collection Eat the Mouth that Feeds You, the December 2023 pick for Alta’s California Book Club. She also wrote about literature and AI in an essay for the Los Angeles Times.

Cassandra Whitaker reviewed Michael Chang’s An Almanac of Useless Talents in the new issue of Lambda Literary.

George Yatchisin reviewed Brian Merchant’s Blood in the Machine: The Origins of the Rebellion Against Big Tech for the California Review of Books.

Julia M. Klein reviewed Lauren Grodstein’s We Must Not Think of Ourselves for the Forward.

Jenny Shank reviewed Melissa Rivero’s Flores and Miss Paula and Vanessa Chan’s The Storm We Made for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Nell Beram reviewed three books for Shelf Awareness: Black TV: Five Decades of Groundbreaking Television from ‘Soul Train’ to ‘Black-ish’ and Beyond by Bethonie Butler; Loaded: The Life (and Afterlife) of the Velvet Underground by Dylan Jones; and Murder Crossed Her Mind by Stephen Spotswood.

Jake Casella Brookins reviewed OKPsyche by Anya Johanna DeNiro for Locus.

George De Stefano reviewed David J. Goodwin’s Midnight Rambles: H. P. Lovecraft in Gothamfor the New York Journal of Books.

Les Schofield reviewed Jehanne Dubrow’s Exhibitions: Essays on Art and Atrocity for Birch Bark Editing/Microlit Almanac.

Diane Scharper reviewed Alice McDermott’s Absolutionfor the National Review.

Paul Wilner reviewed Bob Dylan: Mixing Up The Medicine, written and edited by Mark Davidson and Peter Fishel, and Pledging My Time: Conversations with Bob Dylan Band Members by Ray Padgett for ZYZZYVA.

Tamara MC wrote about a Christmas breakup for Business Insider.

Brian Tanguay reviewed The Suicide Museum by Ariel Dorfman for the California Review of Books.

Member Interviews

Meredith Maran wrote a profile of Michelle Tea for the Los Angeles Times.

NBCC Vice President/Events Jane Ciabattari interviewed Louise Kennedy, author of the short story collection The End of the World Is a Cul de Sac, for Literary Hub.

For their Book Cougars podcast, NBCC member Chris Wolak and Emily Fine spoke with Pip Williams about her new novel, The Bookbinder.

NBCC Vice President/Emerging Critics Fellowship and Online Michael Schaub interviewed Straw Dogs of the Universe author Ye Chun and Black Punk Now co-editors James Spooner and Chris L. Terry for the Orange County Register.

Member News

Roxana Robinson’s new novel, Leaving, published by Norton, received a starred review from Kirkus Reviews, with a critic calling it “elegantly structured and written, shimmering with feeling and truth. A triumph.”

Former NBCC board member Ruben Quesada’s manuscript has been chosen as the 2023 Editors’ Choice for the Barrow Street Poetry Prize. His collection of poetry, Brutal Companion, will be published in late 2024. 

Parul Kapur’s debut novel, Inside the Mirror, which won the AWP Prize for the Novel, will be published by the University of Nebraska Press on March 1. The story centers on twin sisters who aspire to become artists in 1950s India and must battle a society inclined to shatter young women who dare to claim their power. Reviewers interested in galleys may contact publicist Kathleen Carter at

Michael O’Donnell was profiled in The Boston Globe in connection with the publication of his novel Above the Fire.

“Daunt Books” by Al Case is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.