Critical Notes

Reviews and More From NBCC Members

By Michael Schaub

Members and friends, last week, we revealed the finalists for the annual National Book Critics Circle Awards, and we’re so excited to host our ceremony this March in New York. We’d love for you to join us at our finalists reading on March 20 at 6:30 pm Eastern at The New School’s Starr Foundation Hall, and at the awards ceremony on March 21 at 6:30 pm Eastern at The New School Auditorium. Tickets are available here, and remember, if you can’t make it to the ceremony, it will be livestreamed on YouTube!

Also, we’ll be hosting some events at this year’s AWP conference in Kansas City, Missouri, including a happy hour in celebration of our 50th anniversary. Check the end of this message for a list of events that we’re hosting, as well as ones that our members will be a part of—we hope to see you there!

Member Reviews/Essays

Meena Venkataramanan wrote about Shakespeare, Jan. 6, and white nationalism for The Washington Post.

Michael Malone reviewed Paul Lynch’s Prophet Song for the Pleasantville Examiner.

NBCC board member Lauren LeBlanc wrote about the path to publication for the late Katherine Min’s The Fetishist for the Los Angeles Times

Melissa Holbrook Pierson reviewed Happy by Celina Ballet Basra for The Common.

Former NBCC board member Marion Winik, this year’s winner of the NBCC Service Award, wrote about how she doesn’t miss sex for Cosmopolitan. She also reviewed Julie Myerson’s Nonfiction: A Novel for The Washington Post, and Katharine Min’s The Fetishist and Amy Jo Burns’ Mercury for the Star Tribune.

Meg Lemke, Publishers Weekly’s graphic novels reviews editor, compiled four roundups of upcoming comics and graphic novels for the magazine.

Eric Liebetrau wrote about books that prove that the American dream isn’t accessible to all for Kirkus Reviews.

Brian Tanguay reviewed Allen C. Guelzo’s Our Ancient Faith for the California Review of Books.

Ricardo Santiago Soto reviewed Jane Hight’s The Winning Difference for The Journal for Innovation.

Former NBCC board member Mark Athitakis reviewed Kaveh Akbar’s Martyr! and Elizabeth Gonzalez James’ The Bullet Swallower for the Los Angeles Times.

JoeAnn Hart reviewed Helen Macdonald’s Vesper Flights for EcoLit Books

Sasha Vasilyuk reviewed Simon Shuster’s The Showman for KQED.

Jim Scott reviewed Nina Siegal’s The Diary Keepers for the Wellington Square Bookshop blog.

Charlie Tyson reviewed Benjamin C. Waterhouse’s One Day I’ll Work for Myself: The Dream and Delusion that Conquered America for The Baffler.

Jim Schley reviewed Joan Aleshire’s Belfield for Seven Days.

Linda Hitchcock reviewed Loren D. Estleman’s Vamp and Donna Hemans’ The House of Plain Truth for BookTrib.

Katy Scarlett wrote about Mary Jo Bang’s A Film in Which I Play Everyone, the Barbie movie, and Noor Naga’s If an Egyptian Cannot Speak English for the Michigan Quarterly Review.

Nell Beram reviewed two books for Shelf Awareness: 50 Oscar Nights: Iconic Stars & Filmmakers on Their Career-Defining Wins by Dave Karger and Muse: Cicely Tyson and Me: A Relationship Forged in Fashion by B Michael.

Member Interviews

Abby Manzella interviewed Jami Attenberg about 1000 Words for Electric Literature.

For their Across the Pond podcast, former board member Lori Feathers and co-host Sam Jordison kick off 2024 with interviews with Mike McCormack talking about his new novel This Plague of Souls, and Paul Lynch on his Booker Prize-winning novel Prophet Song.

NBCC Vice Presidents/Events Jane Ciabattari’s Literary Hub conversation with Manjula Martin covers her new memoir, The Last Fire Season, which chronicles a world in constant turmoil.

Meg Lemke wrote a profile of Leela Corman for Publishers Weekly.

Member News

Connie Post’s Between Twilight was reviewed by Kristiane Weeks-Rogers at Harbor Review.


NBCC Literary Partner Event:  “Where Is Literary Criticism Headed?

Friday, February 9th at 3:20 pm – 4:35 pm

Ballroom B, Level 2, Kansas City Convention Center

In its fiftieth anniversary year, the National Book Critics Circle gathers literary critics who have been defining the future of contemporary cultural criticism. NBCC criticism chair J. Howard Rosier moderates the panel with authors Margo Jefferson and Camille Dungy and former NBCC criticism chair Walton Muyumba.

Come see us at Booth 162!

The NBCC Bookfair table will be managed by Ruben Quesada and Adam Dalva, with more than a dozen board members and members signed up as volunteers. Come say hello, pick up Emerging Critics applications, sign up for Critical Notes, explore membership (student memberships are $15) and talk about books, criticism, and this year’s awards finalists. 

NBCC Happy Hour: Come toast our 50th anniversary!

5 to 7 p.m. on Thursday Feb. 8.

The Ship, 1221 Union Ave., Kansas City, MO 64101

Come toast the NBCC’S 50th anniversary at a happy hour at The Ship, a New Orleans-themed bar, in collaboration with Biographers International Organization. Come meet NBCC President Heather Scott Partington, board members, former board members, NBCC members, book lovers, biographers and more. 

NBCC member panels and off-sites

Terese Svoboda will be signing as part of the nonfiction collection Weird Sisters at the Feminist Press booth 737 at 12 pm, and her third story collection, The Long Swim, winner of the Juniper Prize in short fiction, at 1 pm, on Thursday, March 9, at the University of Massachusetts Press Table #1742.

Sarah McCraw Crow will be moderating a virtual panel on “Writing the Resonant Recent Past” on Wednesday, February 7 from 9:00 am to 10:00 am. 

JoeAnn Hart will be signing copies of her award-winning fiction collection Highwire Act & Other Tales of Survival at the Black Lawrence Press booth #643 on Thursday, Feb. 8th from noon to one. 

Hélène Cardona will speak on the panel “From the French but not from France: A Bilingual Reading of Francophone Poems, Sponsored by ALTA” on Thursday, February 8 at 12:10pm – 1:25pm, in Room 2215B, Kansas City Convention Center, Street Level.

Sarah McCraw Crow will be participating in an off-site: “A Reading by VCFA Alumnx,” on Thursday, 4:00-5:30 pm at PT’s Coffee Power & Light, 1310 Baltimore Ave, Kansas City, MO, 64105.

Diane Josefowicz will be signing books at the Flexible Press table, #T3307, on Friday, February 9, from 9-10 am.

John Domini will speak on a panel called “A Tribute to Don DeLillo: A Literary Vandal and Bad Citizen” on Friday, February 9, from 9:00 am to 10:15 am in Room 2209, Kansas City Convention Center, Street Level.

Board member J. Howard Rosier will host a conversation with Taco Bell Quarterly Editor-in-Chief M.M. Carrigan about developing a sustainable writing/editing practice from the margins, for Exhibit B’s Poetry for the People programming. The event is on Friday, February 9, at 12:30 p.m. at the Black Archives of Mid-America. 

John Domini will be speaking on a panel about “The Craft and Currency of the Literary Book Review” on Friday, February 9, at 1:45 pm to 3:00 pm, in Room 2211, Kansas City Convention Center, Street Level.

Martha Anne Toll will be speaking on a panel called “How Book Reviewing is Changing and Why it Matters” on Friday, February 9, at 1:45 pm – 3:00 pm, in Room 3501 EF, Kansas City Convention Center, Level 3.

Board member Rebecca Morgan Frank will moderate “Emerson MFA at Forty: Celebrating Four Decades of Writing and Publishing” on Friday, February 9, 2024 at 3:20 pm to 4:35 pm in Room 2211, Kansas City Convention Center, Street Level.

Parul Kapur will be reading from her debut novel, “Inside the Mirror,” about twin sister artists in 1950s India, winner of the AWP Prize for the Novel and forthcoming from the University of Nebraska Press in March 2024, at the AWP Award Series Reading & Celebration on Friday, February 9, at 4:45 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. in Ballroom D, Level 2, Kansas City Convention Center.

Board member Rebecca Morgan Frank will participate in an offsite: “Reading Featuring UIC and Northwestern Alumni and Faculty,” on Friday, February 9, at 5-6:30 pm at Strange Days Brewing Co., 316 Oak St.

John Domini will be participating in an off-site, “Dzanc Books Reading & Reception,” on Friday, February 9 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Post Coffee at 3550 Broadway Blvd. 

Diane Josefowicz will participate in an off-site, “Migration Patterns: A Mind the Bird Media Community Showcase,” on Friday, February 9, from 6-7 pm, at PH Coffee, 2200 Lexington Ave. Diane will also be participating in “Pizza and Prose,” a Flexible Press author showcase, on Friday, February 9, 7-9 pm, at The Milwaukee Delicatessen, 101 W 9th St.

John Domini will be signing books at the Dzanc table on Saturday, February 10, at 9 am.

Board members Adam Dalva and J. Howard Rosier will speak on a panel called “The Criticism of Translated Books: A Words Without Borders Conversation,” on Saturday, February 10 at 9:00 am – 10:15 am, in Room 2208, Kansas City Convention Center, Street Level.