Critical Notes

Reviews and More From NBCC Members

By Michael Schaub

The 2024 National Book Critics Circle Awards, New School Auditorium, New York, New York, March 21, 2024. Photograph by Beowulf Sheehan

Members and friends, we had a great week announcing the winners of the National Book Critics Circle Awards in New York! We’re so grateful for all of you who watched, whether in person or over livestream. You can read the list of winners here, and if you missed the ceremony, you can watch it here. We’re looking forward to reading for next year’s awards, and thanks to all of you for your support!

Member Reviews/Essays

Former NBCC board member and recipient of the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing Steven G. Kellman’s elegiac essay “The Widower’s Lament” appeared in The American Scholar.

NBCC Emerging Critics Fellow Hannah Bonner reviewed the film program Illuminations Program: Elsewhere/Herefor Reverse Shot.

Carole V. Bell reviewed Percival Everett’s Jamesfor NPR.

NBCC board member Rebecca Hussey wrote about Tone by Sofia Samatar and Kate Zambreno for Atmospheric Quarterly.

NBCC board member May-lee Chai reviewed Marie Mutsuki Mockett’s The Tree Doctorfor the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Meena Venkataramanan wrote about Tan Twan Eng’s The House of Doors and Paul Theroux’s Burma Sahib for the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Joan Frank reviewed Marie Mutsuki Mockett’s The Tree Doctor for the San Francisco Chronicle.

NBCC board member Tobias Carroll reviewed Yeji Y. Ham’s The Invisible Hotel for Reactor.

For Writer’s Digest, Susan Shapiro wrote about all the things that went right—and very wrong—with her debut book 20 years ago. It includes advice from her therapist about how a writer can lead a healthier life. 

NBCC board member Lauren LeBlanc reviewed Vinson Cunningham’s Great Expectationsfor the Los Angeles Times.

Alexander Pyles reviewed Hatchby Jenny Irish for Atmospheric Quarterly.

Former NBCC president Laurie Hertzel reviewed Where Rivers Part, the new memoir by Kao Kalia Yang, for the San Francisco Chronicle. Yang’s memoir The Song Poet was an NBCC finalist for autobiography.

Linda Hitchcock reviewed Claire Coughlan’s Where They Lie, Armistead Maupin’s Mona of the Manor, and David Downing’s Union Station for BookTrib.

Ryan Chapman reviewed Hanna Johansson’s Antiquity, Julia Malye’s Pelican Girls, Scott Alexander Howard’s The Other Valley, and Scott Guild’s Plastic for The New York Times Book Review.

Jake Casella Brookins reviewed Adrian Tchaikovsky’s House of Open Wounds and Bennett Sims’ Other Minds and Other Stories for Locus.

Aiden Hunt reviewed Root Fractures by Diana Khoi Nguyen for Tupelo Quarterly.

George Yatchisin reviewed Evelyn McDonnell’s The World According to Joan Didion for the California Review of Books.

Nancy Naomi Carlson reviewed River in an Ocean: Essays on Translation, edited by Nuzhat Abbas, for World Literature Today.

Seán Carlson wrote a tribute following the death of Malachy McCourt—author of A Monk Swimming, Singing My Him Song, and Death Need Not Be Fatal—for Books Ireland magazine.

Patti Jazanoski reviewed The Flounder and Other Stories by John Fulton for Rain Taxi.

Bill Thompson reviewed Daniel Lewis’ Twelve Trees: The Deep Roots of Our Future for the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier.

For The Tangential, Jay Gabler reviewed the new edition of David M. Ewalt’s Of Dice and Men: The Story of Dungeons & Dragons and the People Who Play It.

Michael Barron reviewed Your Absence Is Darkness, written by Jón Kalman Stefánsson and translated by Philip Roughton, for The Washington Post.

Edna Bonhomme reviewed Cristina Henríquez’s The Great Divide for The Washington Post.

Brian Tanguay reviewed Soil: The Story of a Black Mother’s Garden by Camille T. Dungy for the California Review of Books.

Emily Walz reviewed Jeffrey Crean’s The Fear of Chinese Power: An International Historyfor China Books Review.

NBCC Vice President/Online Michael Schaub reviewed Marie Mutsuki Mockett’s The Tree Doctorfor NPR.

Member Interviews

Paul Wilner interviewed Tommy Orange about Wandering Stars for the Nob Hill Gazette.

David Varno, chair of the NBCC’s fiction prize committee and former NBCC president, profiled Miranda July for Publishers Weekly. The piece traces the evolution of July’s multidisciplinary career, finding that with her new novel All Fours, her best book yet, she’s embraced fiction writing as her true calling. David also spoke recently with political essayist John Ganz about his brilliant first book, When the Clock Broke: Con Men, Conspiracists, and How America Cracked Up in the Early 1990s, which analyzes the rise of right-wing populism at the margins of the 1992 presidential election and presents it as the groundwork laid for Trump’s 2016 victory. 

NBCC Co-Vice President/Events Jane Ciabattari’s Literary Hub conversation with Marie Mutsuki Mockett about her new novel, The Tree Doctor, covers the unexpected discoveries of pandemic lockdown. “Can you wake up a body the way you can wake up a tree?” she asks at one point.

Hollay Ghadery was in conversation with Nora Gold at Niv magazine.

NBCC board member Marie Myung-Ok Lee interviewed translator Anton Hur for BOMB Magazine.

The Los Angeles Review published a review-interview feature for Leah Umansky’s Of Tyrant, with review by Shannon Vare Christine and interview by NBCC member Tiffany Troy.

Member News

Nancy Naomi Carlson has translated Algerian poet Samira Negrouche’s Solio, to be published by Seagull Books on May 6, 2024. It was spotlighted in Words Without Borders‘ 2024 International Women’s Day Reading List of 10 forthcoming books written and translated by women in honor of International Women’s Day 2024.

Publishers Weekly reviewed Diane Josefowicz’s novella, L’Air du Temps (1985), out this month from Regal House.

Erika Dreifus was quoted on the subject of “3G literature” in a new Moment magazine article titled “How to Remember: Holocaust Literature From Survivors’ Accounts to 3G.” Another article for the same magazine referenced Erika’s own literary work alongside that of Molly Antopol, Julie Orringer, and Daniel Mendelsohn.

In Memoriam

Former NBCC board member Sybil Steinberg has died at 90. Our sincere condolences to her friends and family.