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

Friends, we hope you’re having a good spring! Our members have been keeping busy with reviews of books by authors including Henry Louis Gates Jr., Victoria Chang, Leif Enger, Rita Bullwinkel, and Hanif Abdurraqib, and interviews with writers such as Pamela Norsworthy, Greg Sarris, and John Reed. We hope you’re doing well, and thanks for reading!

Member Reviews/Essays

Tope Folarin reviewed Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s The Black Boxfor The New York Times Book Review.

NBCC board member David Woo wrote about seven new books of poetry, including ones by Victoria Chang, Joyelle McSweeney, and Corey Van Landingham, for Literary Hub.

Former NBCC President Laurie Hertzel reviewed Leif Enger’s new novel, I Cheerfully Refuse, for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

George De Stefano reviewed Brian Bisesi’s Out of the Blue: Life on the Road with Muddy Watersfor the New York Journal of Books.

Joan Frank reviewed Carys Davies’ Clear for The Washington Post.

Kristen Martin reviewed Rita Bullwinkel’s Headshot for The Baffler and Diego Gerard Morrison’s novel Pages of Mourning for The Believer.

For the Los Angeles Times, NBCC board member Mary Ann Gwinn reviewed The Wide Wide Sea: Imperial Ambition, First Contact and the Fateful Final Voyage of Captain James Cook by Hampton Sides.

Nicole Yurcaba reviewed Adrie Kusserow’s The Trauma Mantras for Pleiades, Stephanie Niu’s Survived By for Hominum Journal, and Serhiy Zhadan’s How Fire Descends for Tupelo Quarterly

NBCC lifetime member Heller McAlpin reviewed Carys Davies’ Clear for The Wall Street Journal.

Terese Svoboda’s “What to Call a Harpy” appeared in Orion.

Aiden Hunt wrote about Cindy Juyoung Ok’s House Work for the Philly Poetry Chapbook Review.

For The Sun, Michael Quinn picks through the wreckage of a collapsed plaster ceiling to see if his love for vintage bric-a-brac survived.

Samantha Neugebauer reviewed Tessa Hulls’s Feeding Ghosts: A Graphic Memoir for the Washington Independent Review of Books.

Melissa Holbrook Pierson reviewed John Berger’s Cataract for Hyperallergic.

Linda Hitchcock reviewed Claire Swinarski’s The Funeral Ladies of Ellerie County for BookTrib.

Nell Beram reviewed three books for Shelf Awareness: Death and Fromage by Ian Moore; Exurbia Now: The Battleground of American Democracy by David Masciotra; and Me and Mr. Jones: My Life with David Bowie and the Spiders from Mars by Suzi Ronson.

NBCC Vice President/Online Michael Schaub reviewed Hanif Abdurraqib’s There’s Always This Yearfor NPR.

Member Interviews

Christopher Lancette interviewed Pamela Norsworthy about her World War II novel War Bonds for the Washington Independent Review of Books.

Betsy Groban was interviewed by the Boston Author’s Club about her career and upcoming children’s book.

For Literary Hub, NBCC Co-Vice President/Events Jane Ciabattari interviewed NBCC member Greg Sarris about writing to remember our responsibility to each other and his new book, The Forgetters.

Tiffany Troy interviewed John Reed about The Never End: The Other Orwell, the Cold War, the CIA, MI6, and the Origin of Animal Farm for The Brooklyn Rail.

Ian McAllen interviewed Jonathan Corcoran about his memoir No Son Of Mine for the Chicago Review of Books.

Member News

Lily Meyer’s debut novel, Short War, will be published Tuesday by A Strange Object.

Terese Svoboda’sDog On Fire was reviewed at Bending Genres.

Kai Maristed’s short story collection, The Age of Migration, has won the inaugural Kevin McIlvoy Prize, and publication by WTAW Press. Prize judge Nina McConigley said of Kai’s book, “These stories are full of discoveries, a book meant for the explorer in all of us mapping the familiar in new ways.”

NBCC board member Mary Ann Gwinn is serving as a nonfiction judge for the Kirkus Prize this year.

Gina Frangello’s sixth book, Elena Ferrante: The Neapolitan Novels, will be published July 9 by Ig Publishing’s Bookmarked series. The Bookmarked series offers deep dives into books that have profoundly influenced the author, combining literary criticism and memoir to explore the connection the author feels to the book they’re writing about. Gina’s book will be the first in the Bookmarked series to cover four novels in one book, given that the Neapolitan Novels are all, in a sense, one novel broken into four parts.

NBCC members Joan Frank, Anita Felicelli, and Jane Ciabattari gathered with moderator Olga Zilberbourg to converse about what it’s like to go from a reader to a critic and the journey to becoming a book reviewer at the Sonoma Community Writers Conference at Sonoma State University in Cotati on April 4. They covered such questions as how they came to reviewing books, the book review timeline, working with editors, using social media, how they feel about plot summaries (“no spoilers!”), and how the NBCC can help potential book reviewers.