Announcing the finalists for the 2019 NBCC Awards

The board of the National Book Critics Circle announces the finalists for its 2019 awards in six categories: Autobiography, Biography, Criticism, Fiction, Nonfiction and Poetry. The winners will be announced at a celebration on March 12 in New York.

In addition, today the recipients of three annual honors, the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing, the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award and the John Leonard Award for First Book are announced — they can be found below the finalists.

Autobiography

Five Days Gone: The Mystery of My Mother’s Disappearance as a Child by Laura Cumming (Scribner)

Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators by Ronan Farrow (Little, Brown)

Sounds Like Titanic: A Memoir by Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman (W. W. Norton)

Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations by Mira Jacob (One World)

Know My Name: A Memoir by Chanel Miller (Viking)

Biography

Gods of the Upper Air: How A Circle of Renegade Anthropologists Reinvented Race, Sex, and Gender in the Twentieth Century by Charles King (Doubleday)

The Queen: The Forgotten Life Behind an American Myth by Josh Levin (Little, Brown)

L.E.L.: The Lost Life and Scandalous Death of Letitia Elizabeth Landon, the Celebrated “Female Byron” by Lucasta Miller (Knopf)

Our Man: Richard Holbrooke and the End of the American Century by George Packer (Knopf)

A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II by Sonia Purnell (Viking)

Criticism

Go Ahead in the Rain by Hanif Abdurraqib (University of Texas Press)

Essays One by Lydia Davis (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Social Upheaval by Saidiya Hartman (W.W. Norton)

Hot, Cold, Heavy, Light, 100 Art Writings 1988-2018 by Peter Schjeldahl (Abrams)

Axiomatic by Maria Tumarkin (Transit Books)

Fiction

Everything Inside by Edwidge Danticat (Knopf)

Feast Your Eyes by Myla Goldberg (Scribner)

The Topeka School by Ben Lerner (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli (Knopf)

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead (Doubleday)

Nonfiction

Manual for Survival: A Chernobyl Guide to the Future by Kate Brown (W.W. Norton)

The Buried: An Archaeology of the Egyptian Revolution by Peter Hessler (Penguin Press)

Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe (Doubleday)

Out of the Shadows: Reimagining Gay Men’s Lives by Walt Odets (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

No Visible Bruises: What We Don’t Know About Domestic Violence Can Kill Us by Rachel Louise Snyder (Bloomsbury)

Poetry

The Tradition by Jericho Brown (Copper Canyon Press)

Deaf Republic by Ilya Kaminsky (Graywolf Press)

Magical Negro by Morgan Parker (Tin House)

Dunce by Mary Ruefle (Wave Books)

Doomstead Days by Brian Teare (Nightboat Books)

The Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing

The Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing is an annual award recognizing outstanding work by a member of the NBCC. The citation is awarded in honor of Nona Balakian, a founding member of the National Book Critics Circle, and comes with a cash prize of $1,000 funded by board member Gregg Barrios. The winner of the 2019 Balakian Prize is Katy Waldman.

The Ivan Sandrof Award for Lifetime Achievement

The Sandrof Award is given to a person or institution — a writer, publisher, critic, or editor, among others — who has, over time, made significant contributions to book culture. The recipient of the 2019 Sandrof Award is  Naomi Shihab Nye.

The John Leonard Award for Best First Book

The 2019 John Leonard Prize for Best First Book, which is selected by the organization’s membership, goes to The Yellow House: A Memoir by Sarah M. Broom, published by Grove.

The awards

The NBCC awards will be presented March 12, 2020 at the New School in New York City. They are preceded by a finalists’ reading on March 11. Both events are free and open to the public.

Those who want to support the NBCC are invited to join winners, finalists and critics at our fundraising reception after the prizes on March 12. Tickets are available here.

NBCC elects new board members

We are pleased to announce the new board members of the National Book Critics Circle. The 24 member board sees 8 members rotate off each year and new members are elected to fill those places. This year, 26 candidates stood for election — thanks to all who participated, and to the membership for voting.

The new members will join the board in March 2020, after the 2019 awards, and will serve until 2023.

Here, in alphabetical order, are the nine new or re-elected members of the board. (Because former president Kate Tuttle will be stepping down after this year’s term, we are welcoming the top nine vote-getters rather than the usual eight.) Congratulations to all.

Jacob Appel is a writer, teacher and critic whose focus is on independent presses. He joins the board for the first time.

Colette Bancroft is the book editor of the Tampa Bay Times in Tampa, Florida and a veteran of the NBCC. 

Jane Ciabattari is a book columnist based in Northern California. A former president of the NBCC, she has served in many capacities at the organization. 

Lori Feathers returns to the board for a second term. She is a freelance book critic and co-owner of Interabang Books in Dallas, Texas.  

Megan Labrise, editor at large for Kirkus Reviews, is a writer and critic based in Portland, Oregon. She joins the board for the first time.

Jessica Loudis returns to the board for a second term. She is an editor and writer whose work has appeared in the New York Times, the London Review of Books and elsewhere.

John McWhorter returns to the board for a second term. He teaches at Columbia University and writes for Time, CNN and the Atlantic and has a podcast at Slate. 

Connie Ogle is on staff at the Miami Herald, where she was books editor. She joins the board for the first time.

Richard Santos is a critic and teacher in Austin, Texas. His debut novel will be published in 2020 by Arte Publico Press, and he joins the board for the first time.

Ringing in 2020 With Member News and Reviews

Elif Shafak, photographed by Ebru Bilun.
Elif Shafak, photographed by Ebru Bilun.

Before we get into the member news, an important note about the Leonard Prize:

NBCC members who joined the reading committee for the 2019 John Leonard Prize for first book were emailed ballots on January 3. The deadline for submitting ballots is January 9, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. EST. As a reader we ask that you vote for one (and only one) of the seven finalist titles.  If you signed up to be a reader and did not receive your ballot, please email NBCC Board member Lori Feathers: lori@interabangbooks.com

Now, on to the reviews:

Lauren Oyler reviewed Anna Wiener’s memoir, Uncanny Valley, for the cover of the New York Times Book Review.

NBCC member Claude Peck asked a dozen LGBTQ+ writers (Adam Haslett, Dianna Hunter, Brian Malloy, Greg Hewett, more) and critics about their preferences when it comes to writing frankly about sex and sexuality. Their answers appeared in Quatrefolio, the twice-yearly newsletter of Quatrefoil Library in Minneapolis.

Gayle Feldman wrote a remembrance of the late Knopf chief Sonny Mehta for the Bookseller. 

Caroline Tew considered the best books of the 2010s for the Harvard Crimson.

Anne Charles reviewed Burn It Down: Women Writing About Anger, edited by Lily Dancyger, for Lambda Literary Review.

Board member Kerri Arsenault reviewed Cynthia Anderson’s Home Now: How 6000 Refugees Transformed an American Town for Air Mail.

Jeffrey Mannix reviewed Steph Cha’s Your House Will Pay in his Murder Ink column for the Durango Telegraph in Durango, Colorado.

Sam Dibella interviewed novelist K Chess for Adroit Journal.

Dana Wilde reviewed Elizabeth Hand’s mystery Curious Toys and A Dangerous New World: Maine Voices on the ClimateCrisis, edited by Meghan Sterling and Kathleen Sullivan, in his Off Radar column in the Central Maine Newspapers.

Kamil Ahsan reviewed Marie NDiaye’s  novel The Cheffe in the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Hamilton Cain reviewed Erika Fatland’s Sovietistan for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Heller McAlpin reviewed Anna Sherman’s travel book The Bells of Old Tokyo for the Wall Street Journal.

Board member Mark Athitakis reviewed Crissy Van Meter’s debut novel, Creatures, for the Los Angeles Times.

Karl Wolff reviewed three poetry collections—Matthew Tierney’s Midday at the Super-kamiokande, Tess Liem’s Obits, and Nasser Hussain’s SKY WRI TEI NGSfor the Driftless Area Review.

Anita Felicelli reviewed E.J. Koh’s memoir The Magical Language of Others for the San Francisco Chronicle.

Sarah Neilson spoke with Staceyann Chin about her new poetry collection, Crossfire, for the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Julia M. Klein reviewed three #MeToo books for the Boston Globe‘s year-end book roundup, and reviewed Deirdre Bair’s memoir Parisian Lives for the Pennsylvania Gazette.

Michelle Newby Lancaster reviewed Elif Shafak’s novel 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World for World Literature Today.

Robert Allen Papinchak reviewed From the Shadows by Juan Jose Millais, trans. Thomas Bunstead and Daniel Hahn, for World Literature Today.

And in member news:

New member Rafael Castillo, a regular monthly OpEd writer for the San Antonio Express-News, had a short Christmas story published on Christmas Eve titled “On the Nose about Christmas Spirit.”

Sarah Sarai‘s poetry collection, That Strapless Bra in Heaven, was published by Kelsay Books last November.

Olga Zilberbourg and Yelena Furman have started a blog, Punctured Lines, to highlight underrepresented voices in Russian and post-Soviet literature.

Rayyan Al-Shawaf‘s debut novel, When All Else Fails, was selected by The New Arab as one of the best books by Arab authors in 2019.

Anita Felicelli‘s cli-fi short story “Until the Seas Rise” was published at Terrain; her novel Chimerica was published in September by WTAW Press.

Xujun Eberlein‘s essay “The Cremation” received a special mention in Pushcart Prize 2020.

NBCC members note: Your reviews seed this roundup; please send items, including news about your new publications and recent honors, to NBCCCritics@gmail.com.

Say goodbye to 2019 with these last book reviews

Image by Pursuedbybear via Flickr
Image by Pursuedbybear via Flickr

Clea Simon picked the 10 best YA books of the year, and also wrote about the  YA trend of writing about gender and sexuality, both for the Boston Globe.

Tobias Carroll selected the best music books of the year for Pitchfork and highlighted new works in translation at Words without Borders.

Readers of Laurie Hertzel’s weekly Bookmark column in the Minneapolis Star Tribune weighed in on whether or not it is OK to write in books. Some said never, some said sometimes, and at least one said it is not only encouraged, it is required. Hertzel, who is the NBCC board president, also wrote about Stefano Bloch’s memoir, Going All City.

Sarah Neilson asked LGBTQIA+-identified authors for their recommend queer reads for the Los Angeles Review of Books.

W. Scott Olsen reviewed actor Jeff Bridge’s new photo book, Pictures: Volume Two, for LensCulture.com.

Pam Munter published her final monthly nonfiction book review, of Bob Iger’s Ride of a Lifetime, for Fourth and Sycamore which is based at a library in Ohio, ending a nearly four year run.

AND ALSO:

Member Alma H. Bond’s book Meryl Streep: On the Couch was published by Bancroft Press on Dec. 3.

C.M. Mayo interviewed Barbara Crooker about her latest book of poetry, Some Glad Morning, at her Madam Mayo blog.

Meredith Sue Willis updated her newsletter, Books for Readers.

Holiday week book reviews from the NBCC

Holiday lights by cisc1970 via Flickr.
Holiday lights by cisc1970 via Flickr.

Michelle Newby Lancaster reviewed Christmas in Austin by Benjamin Markovits for Lone Star Literary Life.

Erika Dreifus hosted the Dec. 15 Jewish Book Carnival, a project of the Association of Jewish Libraries, on her blog My Machberet.

Donna Miscolta reviewed Staten Island Stories by Claire Jimenez for the Seattle Review of Books.

Linda Levitt reviewed Patti Smith’s Year of the Monkey for Spectrum Culture and Sharon Marcus’  June book from Princeton University Press, The Drama of Celebrity, for PopMatters.

Tobias Carroll reviewed Jakarta by Rodrigo Marquez Tizano for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and wrote about optimistic nature writing for LitHub.

Kelly Flynn reviewed Mona Awad’s Bunny in the Adroit Journal.

Collin Huber wrote about his 12 favorite books of the year for Fathom Magazine.

Yvonne C. Garrett reviewed Erin Morgenstern’s The Starless Sea for The Brooklyn Rail.

Peggy Kurkowski reviewed The Puritans: A Transatlantic History by David D. Hall for Open Letters Review.

Amy Weldon reviewed Sarah Broom’s The Yellow House for Orion Magazine.

Natalia Holtzman wrote about J.W. Mohnhaupt’s The Zookeepers’ War for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Dave Altman reviewed Colson Whitehead’s The Nickel Boys in the Pickens County (Ga.) Progress.

Elaine Szewczyk interviewed Bess Kalb about her 2020 book, No One Will Tell You This But Me, for Publishers Weekly.

Grace Lichtenstein reviewed Tom Rosenstein’s Oppo in the NY Journal of Books.

NBCC Emerging Critic Blue Tarpalechee published his first review, of Incarcerated Stories: Indigenous Women Migrants and Violence in the Settler-Capitalist State by Shannon Speed and Alison Hargreaves’ Violence Against Indigenous Women: Literature, Activism, Resistance, in Transmotion.

Former NBCC president Jane Ciabattari interviewed four authors at Bookmarks Reviews: Liesl Schillinger, Lars Iyer, Alan Furst and Nina McLaughlin.

Other member news:

The blog Wordsmith’s posted an interview by Hélène Cardona with poet John Ashbery, who died in 2017.

Christoph Irmscher published an essay on on the architectural photography of Charlie Bidwell at Od Review.

NBCC members: Send us your stuff! Your work may be highlighted in this roundup; please send links to new reviews, features and other literary pieces, or tell us about awards, honors or new and forthcoming books, by dropping a line to NBCCcritics@gmail.com.

Critical notes: Vote! Vote again! And then read

Do not forget to vote to choose our new board members. You should have received an email from Survey Monkey by now, with a ballot inside. The deadline for voting is just before midnight on Jan. 3. If you did not get a ballot it might be that you have opted out of hearing from Survey Monkey–in that case, do email us and we’ll get you fixed up.

And then vote again–this time for the Members’ Choice selection. All voting members of the NBCC are invited to vote for their top books of the year, in each of our six genres. Any title that receives 20 percent of members’ votes will be added to our finalist list in January.  The Survey Monkey ballot will be appearing in your email boxes soon, with a deadline of 5 p.m. EST on Jan. 1.

And now, on to your fine work:

Diane Scharper‘s review of St. Therese of Lisieux: Story of a Life by Guy Gaucher appeared in The Catholic Sentinel.

John McIntyre writes about NBCC member Grace Schulman and poet Marianne Moore at the Poetry Foundation.

Christoph Irmscher published “An Isadorable Unbound” in Raritan,  an essay about the remarkable dancer Lisa Duncan (1898-1976).  A working-class girl from Dresden, she was scooped up and “adopted” by the famous Isadora Duncan and enjoyed a fabulous career on stages in the U.S. and Europe, where she was celebrated for her muscularity and her weightless “airy leaps.”

Zack Graham’s final Epiphany column of the year is a list of the best short things he read in 2019.

Lanie Tankard reviewed Mimi Lok’s short-story collection, Last of Her Name, for The Woven Tale Press.

Sarah McCraw Crow reviewed Shannon Pufalh’s debut novel On Swift Horses for the November issue of BookPage.

Sarah Sarai reviewed Martha Collins’ tenth poetry collection, Because What Else Could I Do, in Heavy Feather Review.

John Domini reviewed the debut novel Reinhardt’s Garden, by Mark Haber, for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Barbara J. King reviewed Almost Human: The Story of Julius, the Chimpanzee Caught Between Two Worlds for the TLS. She also published a personal essay on books, reading and dementia, on David Abram’s Quivering Pen website, in the “My First Time” feature, about the first time she published a book her mother didn’t read.

Philip Kopper reviewed A Fool’s Errand: Creating the National Museum of African American History and Culture in the age of Bush, Obama and Trump by Lonnie G. Bunch III for the Washington Times.

Celia Bland reviewed Spellbound: The Art of Teaching Poetry, edited by Matthew Burgess, for Jacket2.

Oline H Cogdill lists her favorite mysteries of 2019 for the Sun Sentinel.

Board Member David Varno, who recently became fiction reviews editor at Publishers Weekly, reviewed Tarjei Vesaas’s lyrical coming-of-age novel The Hills Reply for On The Seawall.

Board president Laurie Hertzel reviewed Noel Holston’s memoir of losing his hearing, Life After Deaf, for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and also wrote her weekly Bookmark column about readers’ love of books + vacation.

Julia M. Klein writes about a few of the year’s memoirs for the Chicago Tribune.

Rachael Nevins wrote about truth and lies in Incidental Inventions by Elena Ferrante for the Ploughshares blog.

NBCC members: Send us your stuff! Your work may be highlighted in this roundup; please send links to new reviews, features and other literary pieces, or tell us about awards, honors or new and forthcoming books, by dropping a line to NBCCcritics@gmail.com.

The photo above: Eleanor Roosevelt voting in 1936. Franklin D. Roosevelt Library/ Public Domain.

News and reviews from the National Book Critics Circle

Welcome to the latest in news and reviews from the National Book Critics Circle.

Heller McAlpin reviewed biographer Deirdre Bair’s Parisian Lives for the Wall Street Journal.

The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom was reviewed by Collette Bancroft for the Tampa Bay Times and Danielle A. Jackson for Bookforum.

Chelsea Leu reviewed Dead Astronauts by Jeff VanderMeer for the NY Times Book Review.

Tobias Carroll wrote about a trio of recent novels blending science fiction and crime fiction elements for Mystery Tribune and reviewed Alia Trabucco Zerán’s novel The Remainder for the Minneapolis StarTribune.

Julia M. Klein reviewed Annette Hess’s The German House for the Boston Globe and wrote about Jennifer M. Morton and her book, Moving Up Without Losing Your Way for the Princeton Alumni Weekly.

Jenny Shank reviewed Maureen Stanton’s Body Leaping Backward: Memoir of a Delinquent Girlhood for America Magazine.

Jeremy Lybarger reviewed Beautiful Aliens: A Steve Abbott Reader, edited by Jamie Townsend, for 4Columns.

Kathleen Rooney wrote about Walter Benton for the Poetry Foundation.

Jeffrey Mannix reviewed The Liar by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen in his Murder Ink column for the Durango Telegraph.

NBCC president Laurie Hertzel reviewed a roundup of books on gardening and home decor for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, where she is senior editor for books. (The book on elaborate bedrooms is particularly eye-popping.)

Jim Ruland talked to Tommy Pico about the success of There, There for the Los Angeles Times.

Jocelyn McClurg talked to Joseph Kanton about The Accomplice and Michael Crummey about The Innocents for Kirkus.

Eric Nguyen reviewed Bright by Duanwad Pimwana, translated by Mui Poopoksakul, for Spectrum Culture.

Drew Bratcher talked to M. Randal O’Wain about his memoir, Meander Belt: Family, Loss, and Coming of Age in the Working-Class South for the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Rob Kaiser-Schatzlein caught us up on his October reviews: The Tyranny of Economists and  How To Break Up Corporate Giants at the New Republic and  The Financialized Family  at The Baffler.

Ellen Prentiss Campbell reviewed Staten Island Stories by Claire Jimenez for the New York Journal of Books.

Robert Allen Papinchak reviewed  Adrienne Brodeur’s memoir Wild Game:  My Mother, Her Lover, and Me for the Washington Independent Review of Books.

AND IN OTHER MEMBER NEWS:

NBCC Emerging Critic Rochelle Spencer’s book AfroSurrealism: The African Diaspora’s Surrealist Fiction will be published by Routledge on Dec. 20.

Martha Anne Toll published a personal essay in The Lily at the Washington Post and contributed to NPR’s book concierge.

W. Scott Olsen interviewed Paul Moakley, Editor at Large for Special Projects at TIME magazine, for LensCulture.com.

Image via madame.furie via Flickr.

National Book Critics Circle announces finalists for 2019 John Leonard Prize for Best First Book

The NBCC membership has selected the following titles as finalists for the John Leonard Prize for the best first book published in 2019:

Fleishman Is In Trouble, Taffy Brodesser-Akner (Random House)

The Yellow House: A Memoir, Sarah M. Broom (Grove)

The Unpassing, Chia-Chia Lin (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls: A Memoir, T Kira Madden (Bloomsbury)

Disappearing Earth, Julia Phillips (Knopf)

Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion, Jia Tolentino (Random House)

Lot: Stories, Bryan Washington (Riverhead)

Nominations for the John Leonard Prize for a first book in any genre are solicited from the voting members of the NBCC. Finalists for the Prize are the titles that received the most nominations. A panel of NBCC member-volunteers will read the finalists and select the winner, which will be announced on January 11, 2020. The John Leonard Prize will be presented at the NBCC Awards Ceremony in New York City on March 12, 2020.

Posted December 6, 2019

Run for the board, submit for the Balakian and a heap of reviews

Tegan and Sara, whose memoir is “High School.” Photo MCD/FSG.

Tegan and Sara want you to run for the National Book Critics Circle board or submit to be considered for our excellence in reviewing prize. Now’s the time.

Join the NBCC board — nominate yourself by Dec. 6!

The NBCC’s membership elects eight members to join its 24-person board of directors each year. If you are interested in running for the board, please send a short bio and statement of intent (no more than 300 words total) to VP Membership Anjali Enjeti by 5 p.m. ET Dec 6. Board candidates must be NBCC members in good standing to run. (Learn more about membership and join the NBCC.) Read our primer on the NBCC board’s work to learn more about what’s involved.

The Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing: Submit by December 9!

The NBCC awards the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing each year to recognize outstanding work by a member of the NBCC. The citation is awarded in honor of Nona Balakian, a founding member of the National Book Critics Circle. Since 2012, the Balakian Citation has carried with it a $1,000 cash prize donated by board member Gregg Barrios. Nominees for the Balakian Award must be NBCC members in good standing, and may submit up to 5 book reviews for a total of 5,000 words.  The deadline is Monday, December 9; guidelines are here.

And for this week’s reviews and more:

Sarah Neilson spoke to Sara Quin of Tegan and Sara about their memoir High School for BOMB magazine, rounded up 13 books about complicated families  for Buzzfeed, and reviewed Lindy West’s latest essay collection, The Witches Are Coming, for the Seattle Times.

In the Chicago Tribune, Kathleen Rooney wrote about Bette Howland, the  Chicago writer who was almost forgotten but now will not be, thanks to the 2019 book Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage.

For the Wall Street Journal’s holiday issue, Christoph Irmscher wrote about science books, specifically Bill Bryson’s The Body: A Guide for Occupants, Jack Hartnell’s Medieval Bodies, John Gurche’s Lost Anatomies and Anatomy: Exploring the Human Body from Phaidon.

At the New Republic, Robin Kaiser-Schatzlein reviewed Goliath: The 100-Year War Between Monopoly Power and Democracy by Matt Stoller.

At The Millions, Kevin Blankinship looked at trends in Arab literature.

At the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Steve Paul reviewed Carol Sklenicka’s Alice Adams: Portrait of a Writer.

At the Los Angeles Review of Books, former NBCC emerging critic Natalia Holtzman wrote about Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal and his dozens of cats.

At the National Book Review, former NBCC emerging critic Paul Gleason reviewed Michel Houellebecq’s new novel Serotonin.

Jessica Q. Stark wrote about Stefania Heim’s Hour Book in the Fall print issue of The Carolina Quarterly.

David R. Altman reviewed Ann Lamott’s Hallelujah Anyway and Jane Harper’s Force of Nature for the Pickens County Progress in Georgia and considered the dilemma of holiday book giving in the Braselton (Ga.) News.

Dana Wilde reviewed North by Northeast: New Short Fiction by Writers 
from Maine and New England for The Working Waterfront (and wrote about environmental melancholia there in September) and also reviewed Jacqueline Moore’s Chasing the Grass: Poems for Central Maine Newspapers.

NBCC board member Carolyn Kellogg wrote about Nell Zink’s Doxology for the Chicago Tribune and Jeff VanderMeer’s Dead Astronauts for the L.A. Times.

NBCC president Laurie Hertzel reviewed Michael Korda’s memoir of his wife’s death, Passing, for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, where she is senior editor for books. She also wrote her weekly Bookmark column about reader response to the question of whether–in light of the recent Nobel Prize for literature–books should be judged independently of their writers. Using Oscar Wilde as an example, most readers who responded said yes.

And still more member news:

At her blog, C.M. Mayo interviewed Bruce Berger about his essay collection A Desert Harvest.

Jessica Q. Stark will be the assistant poetry editor for AGNI and will publish a poetry collection, Savage Pageant, with Birds LLC next year.

Diane Sharper’s poem “Tree of Life” appeared in America Magazine in November.

Run For the Board! Plus Member Reviews and News

The NBCC board for publishing year 2018, photographed at the NBCC awards on March 14, 2019. 

Members, this is the time of year when you can get deeply involved in the NBCC — choosing the winner of the John Leonard Prize, voting for board members (and running for the board yourself), nominating notable writers or institutions for the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime achievement award, and nominating books for our finalist lists. Get cracking! And read on:

NBCC Board Elections Are Approaching! Deadline Dec. 6!

Every year the NBCC’s membership elects eight members to join its board of directors. If you are interested in running for the board, please send a bio and statement of intent (no more than 300 words) to VP Membership Anjali Enjeti by 5 p.m. ET Dec 6. Board candidates must be NBCC members in good standing to run. (Learn more about membership and join the NBCC.) Read our primer on the NBCC board’s work to learn more about what’s involved.

We Need Your Help Selecting the Next Sandrof Award Honoree

Each year, the NBCC board selects a person or institution to win the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award, and we’d love to have your help choosing the next winner.

The Sandrof Award, named after the first president of the NBCC, is given annually to a person or institution — a writer, publisher, critic, or editor, among others — who has, over time, made significant contributions to book culture. Past winners of the award have included Margaret Atwood, Toni Morrison, PEN American Center, Studs Terkel and Wendell Berry. The most recent honoree, Arte Público Press, received significant national media attention for their win, including articles in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the San Antonio Express-News, Texas Monthly and NBC. They even received a special citation from Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner in honor of their victory.

Any institution or living person can be nominated for the award, and a list of previous winners is available on the NBCC website. If you know of a person or group who you think is deserving of the award, please send their name and a 1-3 paragraph nominating statement to Sandrof Award Committee Chair Michael Schaub at mschaubtx@gmail.com. Nominations are open until Dec. 1, 2019. We’d love to hear from you!

The Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing

The NBCC awards the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing each year to recognize outstanding work by a member of the NBCC. The citation is awarded in honor of Nona Balakian, a founding member of the National Book Critics Circle. Since 2012, the Balakian Citation has carried with it a $1,000 cash prize donated by board member Gregg Barrios. Nominees for the Balakian Award must be NBCC members in good standing, and may submit up to 5 book reviews for a total of 5,000 words.  The deadline is Monday, December 9. Compete guidelines are https://www.bookcritics.org/the-nona-balakian-citation-for-excellence-in-reviewing/

NBCC Members’ Choice

Every year NBCC members are asked to nominate titles to be finalists for the book awards in fiction, nonfiction, biography, autobiography, poetry and criticism. Any title that receives 20 percent of the membership’s votes automatically becomes a finalist. Members, check your email for a message on selecting Leonard Prize candidates.

Now, on to the reviews…

NBCC president  Laurie Hertzel curated (and wrote part of) the Star Tribune’s annual best-of-the-year book section, which highlights more than 50 titles, including fiction, nonfiction, picture books and regional books, as well as a top-ten list by some of the paper’s freelance critics. Hamilton Cain selected Peter Orner’s Maggie Brown & Others for the package.

Stephanie Elizondo Griest reviewed Paul Theroux’s travel book On the Plain of Snakes: A Mexican Journey for the Washington Post.

Former NBCC Emerging Critic Natalia Holtzman reviewed Fleur Jaeggy’s novel Sweet Days of Disciplinefor On the Seawall.

Eric Nguyen reviewed Teru Miyamoto’s novel Inhabitation, translated by Roger K. Thomas, for Spectrum Culture.

John Domini reviewed Johannes Anyuru’s first work translated into English, the novel They Will Drawn in Their Mothers’ Tears, for the Washington Post.

Kevin Blankinship reviewed Christiane Gruber’s The Praiseworthy One: The Prophet Muhammad in Islamic Texts and Images for the Times Literary Supplement and Bewildered: Love Poems from Translation of Desires, a collection of Arabic Sufi poetry translated by Michael Sells, for ArabLit.org.

Gerald Bartell reviewed Sheila Weller’s biography Carrie Fisher: A Life on the Edge for Newsday.

Julia M. Klein reviewed Debbie Cenziper’s Citizen 865: The Hunt for Hitler’s Hidden Soldiers in America for the Forward and interviewed David J. Silverman for the Princeton Alumni Weekly about his history This Land Is Their Land.

Tobias Carroll wrote about Sylvia Townsend Warner’s fiction for BOMB, featured recent translations in his Watchlist column at Words Without Borders, and reviewed two books dealing with Paris and art for InsideHook.

Kristen Millares Young reviewed Carmen Maria Machado’s memoir In the Dream House for the Washington Post.

W. Scott Olsen reviewed Lauren Walsh’s Conversations on Conflict Photography and Michael Magers’ Independent Mysteries for LensCulture.com.

Gayle Feldman reported on the challenges facing new Barnes & Noble CEO James Daunt for the Bookseller.  

Cassandra Luca reviewed Erin Morgenstern’s second novel, The Starless Sea, for the Harvard Crimson.

Peggy Kurkowski reviewed Mike Giglio’s Shatter the Nations: ISIS and the War for the Caliphate for Open Letters Review.

Theodore Kinni reviewed J. Robert Rossman and Mathew D. Duerden’s Designing Experiences for strategy+business; he also rounded up the year’s best management books for the magazine.  

K.L. Romo reviewed John Land’s novel A Time for Murder and Michael Hughes’ novel Country for the Washington Independent Review of Books, and J. Todd Scott’s novel This Side of Night for BookTrib.

Bridget Quinn reviewed the Phaidon compendium Great Women Artists for Hyperallergic.

Jenny Shank reviewed Ruchika Tomar’s novel A Prayer for Travelers and Frank Bergon’s essay collection Two Buck Chuck and the Marlboro Man for High Country News.

James H. Scott reviewed Robert MacFarlane’s Underland: A Deep Time Journey for Wellington Square Books.

Board member Mark Athitakis reviewed Michael Powell’s Canyon Dreams: A Basketball Season on the Navajo Nation for the Washington Post. 

Tony Miksanek reviewed Susan Stagno and Michael Blackie’s From Reading to Healing: Teaching Medical Professionalism through Literature for the Journal of Medical Humanities.

Hélène Cardona reviewed poetry collections by Laura Braverman, Elizabeth Cohen, Blas Falconer, Anne Fitzgerald, and John FitzGerald for Tarpaulin Sky Magazine.

In member news…

Nicholas Birns served as co-editor of The Shrine Whose Shape I Am: The Collected Poetry of Samuel Menashea collection of the late author’s work that publishes next month.

Megan Harlan‘s essay collection, Mobile Home: A Memoir in Essays, won the 2019 AWP Prize for Creative Nonfiction and will be published by the University of Georgia Press in September 2020.

Susan Henderson, Lifetime Member of the NBCC, won the 2019 High Plains Book Award in two categories (Fiction and Woman Writer) for her novel, The Flicker of Old Dreams. She was also a finalist of the Edith Wharton Writers-in-Residence program.

NBCC members: Send us your stuff! Your work may be highlighted in this roundup; please send links to new reviews, features and other literary pieces, or tell us about awards, honors or new and forthcoming books, by dropping a line to NBCCcritics@gmail.com.