Critical Mass, The Blog of the National Book Critics Circle

The great Margaret Atwood, Vladimir Lenin, and other venerables

by Laurie Hertzel | Apr-24-2017

Associated Press photo.

A glorious spring day. The magnolias are blooming (they smell like bubblegum!), the forsythia is glowing golden and my tulips have not yet been eaten by rabbits. Here are the latest reviews and other good news from the hardworking members of the NBCC:

Former NBCC board member and Tampa Bay Times books editor Colette Bancroft reviews Sarah Gerard’s “Sunshine State” for the Tampa Bay Times, and also interviews Margaret Atwood, novelist, poet, essayist and winner of this year's NBCC Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award.

Board member Kerri Arsenault's essay, "Vacationland," was published in "Freeman's: Home," and also at Lithub. Her review of Sara Baume’s novel "A Line Made by Walking" appeared in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. And her interview with Fizcarraldo Editions editor, Jacques Testard, was published on Lithub.

Board member Lori Feathers, a judge for the Best Translated Book Award, writes about why Stefan Hertmans’s "War & Turpentine" should take the prize.

Board member and Minneapolis Star Tribune senior editor for books Laurie Hertzel profiles debut author Lesley Nneka Arimah for the Strib, and also reviews Drew Philp's book "A $500 House in Detroit.

Frank Freeman reviews Eleanor Brackbill’s "The Queen of Heartbreak Trail" in the Portland Press Herald.

Julia M. Klein reviews Anders Rydell's "The Book Thieves" and Norman Ohler's "Blitzed,"  as well as Caroline Kitchener's "Post Grad," all for the Chicago Tribune. She also reviewed Bernhard Schlink's "The Woman on the Stairs" for the Barnes & Noble Review. 

David Nilsen reviewed "Guera" by Rebecca Gaydos for The Collagist.

Joseph Peschel reviewed Michel Stone's “Border Child” in the Raleigh News & Observer.

Michael Magras reviewed "Lenin on the Train" by Catherine Merridale for the Minneapolis Star Tribune

Rayyan Al-Shawaf reviewed "American War," by Omar El Akkad, in the Boston Globe, and "The Idiot," by Elif Batuman, in the Toronto Star.

David Walton reviewed Alex Ryrie's "Protestants," for the Dallas Morning News.

Other publications, awards, honors and good stuff:

SAVE THE DATES: PEN World Voices (with a 10% discount for NBCC members), NBCC membership meeting and "Beyond the Buzz" panel moderated by NBBC board member Michele Filgate, with panelists New York Times's Nicoly Lamy and Julian Lucas, plus Balakian winner Carlos Lozada of the Washington Post.

Former NBCC President John Freeman published his third issue of Freeman’s biannual (this one is "Freeman's: Home") and he and his contributors will be making appearances from Chicago to Stockholm. The full tour schedule is HERE. He will be appearing with Freeman's contributor and NBCC board member Kerri Arsenault in Berlin on April 22nd, Brooklyn on May 2nd, Stockholm on June 5th and Malmo on June 7th.

Your reviews seed this roundup. Please send items, ncluding news about your new publications and recent honors, to Make sure to send links that do not require a subscription or username and password. Please include your name, the publication, a description of your article, and a URL. We love URLs. We do not love hyperlinks.

SAVE THE DATES: PEN World Voices, NBCC Membership Meeting and ‘Beyond the Buzz’ Panel

by Kate Tuttle | Apr-20-2017


SAVE THE DATES! Take note, as there's been a slight adjustment to the BEA events. The May 31-June 1 events take place during BookExpo (aka BEA), so there will be plenty of literary happenings and festivities in the area.

April 30-May 7, 2017: PEN World Voices 2017

NBCC members will be given a 10% discount code when purchasing tickets to any of the PEN World Voices events through the PEN website. On each event page, you will be able to click "Buy Tickets" and then enter the discount code included in the membership NewsWire just sent to you by email when prompted.

May 2, 2017, 7:30 pm:
PEN World Voices 2017. Former NBCC President, John Freeman will be discussing "home" the current theme of his literary journal, Freeman's, with contributor and Board member, Kerri Arsenault, alongside Barry Lopez, Emily Raboteau, and Lawrence Joseph. The event is at Greenlight Bookstore, 632 Flatbush Ave., Brooklyn. More information HERE.

May 4, 2017, 7:30-9 pm: PEN World Voices 2017. NBCC award winner Margo Jefferson and NBCC autobiography finalist Honor Moore will be discussing "Legacies: Militancy and Sisterhood" with Alix Kates Shulman as part of the PEN World Voices. 509 Atlantic Ave., Brooklyn. More information HERE.

May 31, 2017: General Membership Meeting, from 10-12 at the Center for Fiction in New York City. The meeting is open to all members, but is not required. Address: The Center for Fiction, 17 E. 47th Street,
New York, NY 10017

June 1, 2017: NBCC panel at 4 pm with a wine reception to follow, both at the Center for Fiction. The panel topic will be "Beyond the Buzz: Finding Hidden Gems, from Small Press Books to Translations and More," and it will be moderated by Board member Michele Filgate, with panelists Balakian winner Carlos Lozada, the New York Times's Julian Lucas and Nicole Lamy, and NBCC VP/Technology Bethanne Patrick.  

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