Critical Notes

Reviews and More From NBCC Members

By David Varno

Dear friends, 

We’ve got a stacked double issue of Critical Notes this week, with lots of great reviews, profiles, and interviews from NBCC members. Among the books reviewed are two of my favorites I’ve read so far this year, debut fiction and nonfiction from Zach Williams and John Ganz, respectively. We’ve also got a great interview with past NBCC finalist Elizabeth Strout, which, full disclosure, I edited for Publishers Weekly, about Strout’s Tell Me Anything, which brings together several of her well-known characters from previous works. 

Enjoy, and happy reading for the holiday week. 


Hamilton Cain reviewed Claire Lombardo’s Same As it Ever Was for the New York Times Book Review.

Carole Bell reviewed Little Rot by Akwaeke Emezi for the Los Angeles Times.

Benjamin Woodard reviewed The Murmuration by Carlos Labbé for Words Without Borders.

Chris Barsanti reviewed John Ganz’s When the Clock Broke: Con Men, Conspiracists, and How America Cracked Up in the Early 1990s for The Millions.

Priscilla Gilman reviewed Beautiful Days by Zach Williams for the Boston Globe.

Paul Wilner reviewed Ann Powers’s Traveling: On The Path of Joni Mitchell for ZYZZYVA.

Heller McAlpin reviewed Rachel Cusk’s Parade for NPR.

Robert Rubsam reviewed Adam Ehrlich Sachs’s Gretel and the Great War for the Washington Post and Alvaro Enrigue’s You Dreamed of Empires for Commonweal.

Cory Oldweiler reviewed Jaroslav Rudiš’s Winterberg’s Last Journey, translated by Kris Best, for the Times Literary Supplement.

Charles Green reviewed Annette Masters’ YA novel The Hennessy Lie and Kelly Vincent’s Uglier for Blueink Review.

W. Scott Olsen reviewed It Could Have Been A Beautiful by Edouard Elias and Thank You Pleases Come Again: How Gas Stations Feed and Fuel the American South by Kate Medley for Frames Magazine.

Lauren LeBlanc reviewed Olivia Laing’s The Garden Against Time for the Boston Globe.

Steven G. Kellman reviewed Maya Arad’s The Hebrew Teacher for Arts Alive San Antonio.

Nicole Yurcaba reviewed Misha Zelinsky’s novel The Sun Will Rise for Tupelo Quarterly.

Jake Casella Brookins reviewed Ben Berman Ghan’s The Years Shall Run Like Rabbits for Locus.

Beatrice Szymkowiak reviewed the poetry collection Asterism by Ae Hee Lee for Under a Warm Green Linden.

Kitty Kelley reviewed When Women Ran Fifth Avenue: Glamour and Power at the Dawn of American Fashion for Washington Independent Review of Books.

George Yatchisin reviewed Tommy Tomlinson’s Dogland: Passion, Glory, and Lots of Slobber at the Westminster Dog Show for the California Review of Books.

Linda Hitchcock reviewed Jacqueline Winspear’s The Comfort of Ghosts and Jasper Fforde’s Red Side Story for BookTrib.

Claude Peck reviewed Blessings by Chukwuebuka Ibeh for the Minneapolis Star Tribune

Fran Hawthorne reviewed Honey by Isabel Banta for the New York Journal of Books.

Nell Beram reviewed four books for Shelf AwarenessThe Editor: How Publishing Legend Judith Jones Shaped Culture in America by Sara B. Franklin; Farewell, Amethystine by Walter Mosley; To Die in June by Alan Parks; and When Women Ran Fifth Avenue: Glamour and Power at the Dawn of American Fashion by Julie Satow.

In Conversation

Wadzanai Mhute profiled two-time Booker finalist Chigozie Obioma on his new novel The Road to the Country for the New York Times.

Benjamin Woodard interviewed travel writer and comic Kristen Van Nest about her memoir Where to Nest for Cleaver Magazine and talked with Elizabeth Strout about Tell Me Everything for Publishers Weekly

W. Scott Olsen interviewed Charles Traub for the Frames podcast.

Adam M. Lowenstein interviewed Natalie Foster about her book, The Guarantee, for the newsletter Reframe Your Inbox.

Kathleen Rooney interviewed Ananda Lima for Chicago Magazine.

Anita Felicelli profiled Francine Prose, with a focus on Prose’s new memoir 1974, for Alta.

Elaine Szewczyk profiled 82-year-old British mystery maven Rhys Bowen and thriller writer Sarah Pekkanen for Publishers Weekly.

Grant Faulkner interviewed Garth Risk Hallberg about his new novel Second Coming and the great American novel for the podcast Write-minded.

Shani Friedman interviewed Amy B. Scher, author of Out In The World: An LGBTQIA+ (and Friends!) Travel Guide to More Than 100 Destinations Around the World, for TC Jewfolk.

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