Reviews from the NBCC. Awards are around the corner!

Zora Neale Hurston. Photo by Carl Van Vechten, 1938.

NBCC friends and members: Our awards are coming March 12! The awards are free, followed by a post-awards celebratory fundraiser with drinks and snack and literary luminaries. Get tickets  now.


Collette Bancroft reviewed the Zora Neale Hurston story collection Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick for the Tampa Bay Times.

Martha Anne Toll reviewed Philip Kennicott’s Counterpoint: A Memoir of Bach and Mourning for NPR.

Heller McAlpin reviewed Julian Barnes’ The Man in the Red Coat for NPR.

Christoph Irmscher reviewed Nina Amstutz’s Caspar David Friedrich: Nature and the Self  (Yale University Press) for the Wall Street Journal.

Ben Yagoda reviewed Citizen Reporters by Stephanie Gorton for the Wall Street Journal.

Gaiutra Bahadur considered Hazel Carby’s 2019 book Imperial Intimacies in the Nation.

Board member Carolyn Kellogg (that’s me) reviewed Yellow Bird: Oil, Murder and a Woman’s Search for Justice in Indian Country by Sierra Crane Murdoch for the Los Angeles Times.

Former NBCC Emerging Critic Jennie Hann interviewed Teddy Wayne about his new novel, Apartment, for the Los Angeles Times.

Elias Rodriques reviewed Amaud Jamaul Johnson’s Imperial Liquor and Rowan Ricardo Phillips’ Living Weapon for the Poetry Foundation.

Grace Lichtenstein reviewed Home Making, the debut novel by Lee Matalone, for Bookpage.

Jean Huets reviewed Where You’re All Going: Four Novellas, by Joan Frank, in Ron Slate’s On the Seawall.

Robin Kaiser-Schatzlein reviewed David Enrich’s Dark Towers at the New Republic.

Michelle Newby Lancaster reviewed Barn 8 by Deb Olin Unferth for Lone Star Literary Life.

David R. Altman published a review of Remember Henry Harris by Sam Heys, in the Braselton (Ga.) News.

Kathleen Rooney reviewed Alison McGhee’s The Opposite of Fate for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Julia M. Klein reviewed Justus Rosenberg’s memoir, The Art of Resistance, for the Forward and Jill Wine-Banks’s memoir, The Watergate Girl, for the Boston Globe.

Hamilton Cain reviewed Amnesty by Aravind Adiga, running this weekend in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and Why We’re Polarized  by Ezra Klein for O, the Oprah Magazine.

Tobias Carroll reviewed Marian Womack’s The Golden Key for and wrote about the works of Charles Portis, who died Feb. 17, for Inside Hook.

Caroline Tew reviewed Oligarchy by Scarlett Thomas for the Harvard Crimson.

John Domini reviewed And I Do Not Forgive You, short stories by Amber Sparks, for the Washington Post.

Rachael Nevins wrote about coming of age, dissent and Abigail by Magda Szabó at Ploughshares.

Eric Nguyen reviewed Real Life by Brandon Taylor for Ploughshares; Butterfly Yellow by Thanhhà Lại for diaCRITICS; andThe Starlet and the Spy by Ji-Min Lee, translated by Chi-Young Kim, for Spectrum Culture.

Alison Buckholtz reviewed Anna Wiener’s Uncanny Valley: A Memoir for the Florida Times-Union.

K.L. Romo interviewed Tori Eldridge about her novel The Ninja Daughter at the Washington Independent Review of Books.

Nina Schuyler interviewed Ann Harleman about her novel Tell Me, Signora at Fiction Advocate.

Heidi Seaborn interviewed Victoria Chang (NBCC Board member) about her new poetry collection Obit in the The Adroit Journal.

James H. Scott reviewed David M. Rubenstein’s The American Story: Conversations with Master Historians for Wellington Square Books.


Board member Tess Taylor has two books of poetry out this spring: Last West, a book length collage poem that is also a part of the Dorothea Lange: Words & Pictures Exhibition at MoMA (up through May 9); and Rift Zone from Red Hen Press.

Meg Waite Clayton’s The Last Train to London is a Jewish Book Award finalist.

John Domini was interviewed in Rain Taxi about his novel The Color Inside a Melon and also discussed the book with Lance Olsen in Vol. 1 Brooklyn.

Joan Gelfand had four poems published in Synchronized Chaos this month.

Former board member Linda Wolfe has died, her family has shared on social media. Wolfe published several works of fiction nonfiction, including Wasted: The Preppie Murder, which was a NY Times notable book in 1989. She was an active member of the NBCC, including serving on the board of directors, for more than 40 years.


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 Be sure to include the link to your work.

Dozens of new reviews and more from the NBCC

A bookstore in Argentina. Photo by Michael Bamford via Flickr.

Richard Santos, whose term on the board begins next month, wrote about the American Dirt controversy for Texas Monthly.

Barbara J. King reviewed Lydia Denworth’s Friendship: The Evolution, Biology, and Extraordinary Power of Life’s Fundamental Bond  at the Washington Post.

Jim Ruland reviewed Little Constructions by Anna Burns for the Los Angeles Times.

Hamilton Cain reviewed the forthcoming novel Apeirogon by Colum McCann in the March issue of O, the Oprah Magazine.

Susan Coll reviewed The Women in Black by Madeleine St. John for the NY Times Book Review.

Andrew Ervin reviewed four books about WWII espionage for the NY Times Book Review and interviewed Amber Sparks about her new book And I Do Not Forgive You for Untoward.

Sarah Neilson reviewed Jake Skeets’s Eyes Bottle Dark with a Mouthful of Flowers for the Believer; she also interviewed Jenn Shapland about My Autobiography of Carson McCullers for Bookforum and Lidia Yuknavitch about Verge for Cascadia Magazine.

Tobias Carroll wrote about Michael Zapata’s The Lost Book of Adana Moreau at and reviewed Garth Greenwell’s Cleanness for Ron Slate’s On the Seawall.

NBCC Board member Victoria Chang reviewed Rick Barot’s book of poems, The Galleons, for On the Seawall.

Tara Cheesman reviewed Lux by Elizabeth Cook for On the Seawall and Seven Samurai Swept Away In A River by Jung Young Moon for Barrelhouse Magazine

Jocelyn McClurg talked to Sophie Hannah about Perfect Little Children for Kirkus.

For the Associated Press, Oline Cogdill reviewed The Burn by Kathleen Kent, Dead to Her by Sarah Pinborough and The Only Child by Mi-ae Seo.

Yvonne C. Garrett reviewed Cutting Edge: New Stories of Mystery and Crime By Women Writers, edited by Joyce Carol Oates, for the Brooklyn Rail.

Christine Brunkhorst reviewed Arthur Phillips’ novel The King at the Edge of the World for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Heller McAlpin reviewed Arthur Phillips’ The King at the Edge of the World for the Wall St. Journal and Jenny Offill’s Weather for NPR.

NBCC Emerging Critic Emma Hager reviewed Jenny Offill’s Weather for The Baffler.

Board member Carolyn Kellogg talked to Jenny Offill about Weather for Shondaland.

Nathan Webster talked to Sam Wasson about The Big Goodbye: Chinatown and the Last Years of Hollywood for the Daily Beast.

Gerald Bartell reviewed Phantom Lady: Hollywood Producer Joan Harrison, the Forgotten Woman Behind Hitchcock by Christina Lane for Newsday.

Elizabeth Lund wrote about love poetry for the Christian Science Monitor.

Michael J. McCann reviewed Into The Fire by Gregg Hurwitz for the New York Journal of Books.

Judith Reveal reviewed Inside the Critics’ Circle by Phillipa K. Chong for the New York Journal of Books.

Lanie Tankard reviewed Birder on Berry Lane by Robert Tougias for The Woven Tale Press.

Debby Bacharach reviewed Sandra Yannone’s poetry collection Boats for Woman for New Letters.


Member Joan Frank has two books coming out this month: Try to Get Lost: Essays on Travel and Place from Univ. of New Mexico Press and Where You’re All Going, a quartet of novellas, from Sarabande.

NBCC member Katherine Hill’s book with Sarah Chihaya, Merve Emre, and Jill Richards, The Ferrante Letters: An Experiment in Collective Criticism, was reviewed by Katy Waldman for The New Yorker and Jennifer Wilson for The New Republic. An excerpt of Katherine’s portion of The Ferrante Letters appeared in The Paris Review under the title “The Elena Ferrante in My Head.”

W. Scott Olsen interviewed Manolis Moresopoulos, Director of the Athens Photo Festival, for

New reviews and more from the NBCC

NBCC friends and members: Now is the time to order your tickets for the post-awards celebration! It’s March 12 in New York City directly after our awards ceremony, and is our annual fundraiser. With drinks and snacks!

NBCC board member Lori Feathers interviewed Scarlett Thomas about her new novel, Oligarchy, for LitHub.

Kathleen Rooney reviewed Michael Zapata’s The Lost Book of Adana Moreau for the Chicago Tribune.

Roxana Robinson wrote about Virginia Woolf for The New Yorker.

Kamil Ahsan reviewed Lidia Yuknavitch’s short story collection Verge for NPR.

Priscilla Gilman reviewed Weather by Jenny Offill for the Boston Globe.

Julia M. Klein reviewed Eilene Zimmerman’s Smacked for the Boston Globe.

Clea Simon reviewed Daniel Kehlmann’s Tyll for the Boston Globe.

Pat Hagen reviewed The Professor and the Parson by Adam Sisman for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Claude Peck reviewed The Scientist and the Spy by Mara Hvistendahl for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Scott McLemee wrote a remembrance of critic George Steiner at Inside Higher Ed.

Joe Peschel reviewed Paul Yoon’s Run Me To Earth for the Brooklyn Rail.

Laurie Stone reviewed Hannah Sullivan’s Three Poems in The Women’s Review of Books.

Oline H Cogdill reviewed The Good Killer by Harry Dolan for the Associated Press and The Other Mrs. by Mary Kubica for the Sun-Sentinel.

Sarah Neilson spoke with poet Danez Smith about their latest collection, Homie, for Adroit Journal. At Seattle Times, she reviewed Melissa Anne Peterson’s Vera Violet and Emma Copley Eisenberg’s The Third Rainbow Girl.

Paul Wilner reviewed Conversations with William T. Vollmann, edited
by Daniel Lukes for ZYZZYVA.

Jeffrey Mannix reviewed Perfect Little Children by Sophie Hannah for the Durango Telegraph.

K.L. Romo reviewed Sophie Hannah’s Perfect Little Children for the  Washington Independent Review of Books and reviewed two books for The Big Thrill Magazine,  Within Plain Sight by Bruce Robert Coffin and Last Day by Luanne Rice.

Robert Allen Papinchak reviewed Clare Beams’s The Illness Lesson for the Washington Independent Review of Books.

Michelle Newby Lancaster reviewed We, the Wildflowers by L.B. Simmons for Lone Star Literary Life.

Fran Hawthorne reviewed The Light after the War by Anita Abriel for the New York Journal of Books.

Michael J. McCann reviewed Sanctuary by Luca D’Andrea for the New York Journal of Books.

Laura Wetherington reviewed Experiments in Joy by Gabrielle Civil for Full Stop.

Jessica Smith reviewed Emily Jungmin Yoon’s A Cruelty Special to Our Species from 2018 for FENCE Digital/Constant Critic.


Smith’s own poetry collection, How to Know the Flowers, was reviewed in The Rumpus.

Wetherington’s second book of poetry, Parallel Resting Places, was selected by Peter Gizzi for the New Measure Poetry Prize.

Terese Svoboda’s poem “Shame Helps” appears in the February issue of Poetry magazine.

Katharine Coldiron’s debut novella, Ceremonials is out now from Kernpunkt Press.

Joan Frank discussed her book Where You’re All Going: Four Novellas with the podcast A Novel Idea, which airs on KRCB-FM Radio.

Christoph Irmscher wrote about the photography of Mark Roemisch in 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 Be sure to include the link to your work.

Image: from Our Living World, 1885, one of 150,000 botanical illustration images in the public domain made available online by the Biodiversity Heritage Library.

Critical Notes: February 3, 2020

It’s February and 2020 is in full effect, with this week’s batch of book reviews from members. Also, don’t forget to order your tickets for the NBCC Gala Fundraiser, following the awards ceremony on March 12.  And if you’re heading to San Antonio for AWP, make sure to check out these NBCC events.


NBCC online VP Carolyn Kellogg reviewed Paul Yoon’s Run Me to Earth for the Los Angeles Times, saying it “inverts and reinvents the American war story.” Also this week, Kellogg reviewed Charles Yu’s “Interior Chinatown” for the Washington Post.

Benjamin Woodard interviewed Abby Frucht about her new poetry collection, Maids, for the Rumpus.

William O’Rourke reviewed Our Man: Richard Holbrooke and The End of the American Century by George Packer for the National Catholic Reporter.

Clea Simon explains why she opted out of reviewing American Dirt for the Boston Globe.

Board member Mark Athitakis reviewed Phillipa K. Chong’s study of book reviewers, Inside the Critics Circle, for On the Seawall. He also spoke with Five Books about the autobiography finalists for this year’s NBCC awards.

Speaking of five books, Moment magazine asked Erika Dreifus for a list of what to read to be an educated Jew.

Peggy Kurkowski reviewed The Reality Game: How the Next Wave of Technology Will Break the Truth, by Samuel Woolley, for Open Letters Review. Kurkowski also reviewed The Sacrament by Olaf Olafsson for the BookBrowse Review.

Julia M. Klein reviewed Emuna Elon’s House on Endless Waters for the Forward.

Joe Peschel writes about E. B. White’s essay collection, On Democracy, in the Portland Press Herald.

Karl Wolff reviewed How to Get Rid of a President: History’s Guide to Removing Unpopular, Unable, or Unfit Chief Executives by David Preiss for the New York Journal of Books.

Ron Slate reviewed Scratching the Head of Chairman Mao, stories by Jonathan Tel, for On The Seawall.

Jim Ruland talks to Michael Chabon about making the jump to showrunner for Star Trek: Picard in the Los Angeles Times, and reviewed Cristina Rivera Garza’s The Taiga Syndrome in Message from the Underworld.

Hamilton Cain reviewed Carola Saavedra’s Blue Flowers for Ploughshares:

Michael Adam Carroll reviewed Children of the Land by Marcelo Hernandez Castillo for Ploughshares and The Criminal Child by Jean Genet for Ploughshares 

Cassandra Luca reviewed Anna Wiener’s Uncanny Valley for the Harvard Crimson.

Fran Hawthorne reviewed To the Edge of Sorrow by Ahron Appelfeld for the New York Journal of Books.

Member news

Recipients of the inaugural Big Other Literary Citizenship Award for outstanding efforts toward supporting the work of innovative writers and adventurous presses, through reviewing, editing, publishing, and/or promoting books, as well as encouraging, building, and sustaining a robust literary culture include NBCC members Tobias Carroll (who has a new column up at Words Without Borders), Jane Ciabattari, and Gabino Iglesias.

Member Parul Kapur Hinzen’s short story “Raus!”, set in 1990s Germany, appears in the Winter 2020 issue of Pleiades.

Critical Notes: Awards Updates, and Member News and Reviews

Photo of Nell Painter by Dwight Carter, via the MacDowell Colony

Earlier this month, we proudly announced the 30 finalists in six categories for our annual book awards. In the coming weeks, NBCC board members will be spotlighting each title on our website. In the meantime, please mark your calendars: On March 11 we’ll host an evening of readings from finalists, and on March 12 we’ll announce the award winners. After the awards ceremony, please come to our gala fundraiser, where you can mingle with friends and finalists while supporting the work the NBCC does throughout the year. Don’t wait: Buy your tickets today!

Now, on to our member reviews…

Lisa Peet interviewed Jen Beagin, author of Pretend I’m Dead and Vacuum in the Dark, for Bloom.

Fran Hawthorne reviewed Michal Ben-Naftali’s novel The Teacher for the New York Journal of Books.

Tom Zelman reviewed Ilan Stavans and Josh Lambert’s How Yiddish Changed America and How America Changed Yiddish for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Tobias Carroll wrote about some recent books that explore questions of trauma and crime but don’t necessarily fit the “true crime” category for CrimeReads.

Anita Felicelli reviewed Charles Yu’s novel Interior Chinatown for the San Francisco Chronicle.

Daneet Steffens interviewed Alex Marwood for CrimeReads, and reviewed William Gibson’s novel Agency and Kate Weinberg’s novel The Truants for the Boston Globe.

Hamilton Cain covered new books from Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman, Rye Curtis, Emma Copley Eisenberg, Katrine Engberg, Scarlett Thomas, and Joshua Yaffa for O: The Oprah Magazine.

Jenny Shank reviewed Olaf Olaffson’s novel The Sacrament for America Magazine.

Jonathan Marks reviewed Yuval Levin’s A Time to Build for ArcDigital. 

K.L. Romo reviewed Serena Burdick’s historical novel The Girls With No Names for BookTrib; for The Big Thrill, she reviewed J.T. Ellison’s psychological thriller Good Girls Lie and Chris Hauty’s political thriller Deep State, and interviewed thriller author Jon Land.

Michael J. McCann reviewed Lars Kepler’s novel The Rabbit Hunter for the New York Journal of Books:

Martha Anne Toll reviewed Garth Greenwell’s novel Cleanness for NPR Books.

Dana Wilde reviewed Elizabeth Strout’s novel Olive, Again in his Off Radar column in the Central Maine Newspapers.

Kimberly King Parsons interviewed Gary Lutz for Southwest Review.

Jacob Appel reviewed Jeanine Cummins’ novel American Dirt for the New York Journal of Books.

J. Howard Rosier reviewed Danez Smith’s poetry collection Homie for 4Columns.

Peggy Kurkowski reviewed Buddy Levy’s Labyrinth of Ice: The Triumphant and Tragic Greely Polar Expedition for Open Letters Review.

Rachael Nevins wrote about three heroines of William Gibson’s novels for Ploughshares.

Chris Barsanti reviewed Anna Wiener’s memoir, Uncanny Valley, for PopMatters.

Sarah Neilson rounded up 11 of the most anticipated books by indigenous authors for the first half of 2020 for BookMarks, reviewed Danez Smith’s poetry collection Homie for Lambda Literary, and interviewed Emma Copley Eisenberg for an essay about The Third Rainbow Girl for On the Seawall.

Rachael Nevins reviewed Burhan Sönmez’s novel Labyrinth for Necessary Fiction.

David Nilsen reviewed Elizabeth Schmuhl’s poetry collection Premonitions for Southern Indiana Review.

Clea Simon reviewed Rita Woods’ debut novel, Remembrance, for the Boston Globe.

Oline Cogdill reviewed Tim Dorsey’s mystery Naked Came the Florida Man  and Charlaine Harris’ novel The Longer Fall for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and Alex Marwood’s novel The Poison Garden for the Associated Press.

And in other news:

Nell Painter, whose book Old in Art School was an NBCC finalist in autobiography last year, has been appointed chair of the MacDowell Colony board of directors.

Member Joan Frank was interviewed by ForeWord Reviews about her new essay collection, Try to Get Lost, which won the River Teeth Nonfiction Book Award.

Member Connie Post‘s poetry collection Prime Meridian was released on January 3 by Glass Lyre Press.

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 Be sure to include the link to your work.

New reviews and more book stories from the NBCC

A bookstore in Lima, Peru. Credit txmx 2 via Flickr.
A bookstore in Lima, Peru. Credit txmx 2 via Flickr.

Addicted to reading? Join us for our NBCC Awards on March 12 in New York City, for free. Buy your tickets for the fundraising reception following the awards ceremony that night to help support book critics.

And now, for the latest member reviews and more:

Julia M. Klein reviewed Diana Wichtel’s Driving to Treblinka for the Forward.

Ron Slate reviewed Jonathan Buckley’s novel The Great Concert of the Night for On The Seawall.

Robert Allen Papinchak reviewed Philippe Lancon’s Disturbance: Surviving Charlie Hebdo for On the Seawall.

Tobias Carroll talked with Jack L. Goldsmith about his new book In Hoffa’s Shadow for InsideHook.

Eric Nguyen reviewed The Factory by Hiroko Oyamada, translated by David Boyd, for Spectrum Culture.

For Lit Hub/Book Marks, former NBCC president Jane Ciabattari  interviewed Crissy Van Meter, author of Creatures, and also talked to Cesare author Jerome Charyn.

Hamilton Cain reviewed Liz Moore’s Long Bright River for the January issue of O, the Oprah Magazine.

Caroline Tew reviewed Topics of Conversation by Miranda Popkey for The Harvard Crimson.

Lanie Tankard reviewed Include Me Out by María Sonia Cristoff for The Woven Tale Press.

Hélène Cardona reviewed Vacant Possession by Anne Fitzgerald in Pratik: A Magazine of Contemporary Writing.

W. Scott Olsen reviewed Echo Mask, a new photobook by Jonathan Levitt, for

James H. Scott reviewed Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Astrophysics for People in a Hurry and Letters from an Astrophysicist for Wellington Square Books.

Debby Bacharach reviewed Ilya Kaminsky’s Deaf Republic for Sugar House.

More member news:

Also, Debby Bacharach received a 2020 Pushcart honorable mention for poetry.

Natalie Bakopoulos’ second novel, Scorpionfish, will be published in July 2020 by Tin House.

NBCC VP of Communications Kerri Arsenault’s book Mill Town: Reckoning with What Remains, coming from St. Martin’s in September, was included as one of the most anticipated books of 2020 at LitHub (where she is a contributing editor).

Rafael Castillo wrote an OpEd for the San Antonio Express-News saying 2020 will be the year of the independent author.

Clea Simon’s new mystery An Incantation of Cats is out now from Polis Books.

Matthew Jakubowski’s speculative short story, “Little Brother,“ was published by the U.K. literary magazine Lunate.

Jean Huets talked about her book With Walt Whitman, Himself, on Blue Ridge PBS’ Write around the Corner, a series featuring authors writing about, or who are from, Virginia.

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 Be sure to include the link to your work.

Awards Finalists, Reviews from NBCC Members

The finalists for the 2019 NBCC awards were announced this past Saturday at Bo’s in New York, along with the winners of the John Leonard Prize, the Balakian, and the Sandrof. Find all the details here, and  buy your tickets for the reception following the awards ceremony on March 12.

NBCC Member Reviews

Kamil Ahsan reviewed Garth Greenwell’s second book, Cleanness, for the A.V. Club, noting how the author’s work “reclaim(s) the ‘filthy’ spaces of queer longing.”

Carlos Lozada reviewed Donald Trump Jr.’s book, Triggered, for the Washington Post, comparing it (un)favorably to his father’s Art of the Deal.

Julia M. Klein reviewed Adam Kay’s memoir, This Is Going to Hurt, for the Boston Globe.

Eric Liebetrau reviewed Jodie Kirshner Adam’s Broke for the Winter 2019-2020 issue of Columbia Magazine.

Lanie Tankard reviewed They Will Drown in Their Mothers’ Tears by Swedish author Johannes Anyuru for the winter issue of World Literature Today.

Lydia Pyne reviewed Elizabeth Hennessy’s On The Backs Of Tortoises for the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Oline H. Cogdill’s review of Liz Moore’s Long Bright River for the Associated Press was picked up by the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Heller McAlpin reviewed Miranda Popkey’s Topics of Conversation for NPR.

Robin Kaiser-Schatzlein reviewed Divested: Inequality In The Age Of Finance by Ken-Hou Lin and Megan Tobias Neely for the New Republic.

Tayla Burney interviewed Crissy Van Meter for Kirkus about her debut novel, Creatures.

Bridget Quinn reviewed Stefano Bloch’s gritty and scholarly memoir, Going All City: Struggle and Survival in LA’s Graffiti Subculture from University of Chicago Press for Hyperallergic.

Lisa R Spaar reviewed Andrew Zawacki’s latest collection Unsun: f/11 for Ron Slate’s On the Seawall.

Eric Nguyen reviewed Pain by Zeruya Shalev, translated by Sondra Silverstone for Necessary Fiction.

Alison Buckholtz reviewed Cinderella Liberator by Rebecca Solnit for the Florida Times-Union.

Former NBCC president Jane Ciabattari’s “Books to Read in 2020” for BBC Culture includes new novels from NBCC fiction award winners Louise Erdrich and Hilary Mantel.

Hamilton Cain reviewed Steve Inskeep’s Imperfect Union, which will run in this Sunday’s Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

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:

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

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

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.


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