Critical Mass, The Blog of the National Book Critics Circle

Attention NBCC Members

by David Varno | Jul-17-2018

Coming soon! Our website is getting a significant makeover. Soon you’ll be able to easily find all the information you need – member discounts, awards information, or the latest Critical Notes blog post. And the difficulties of logging in and managing your membership and renewals that many of you have experienced will be eliminated. 

But to complete our move to this new system, we’ll need some help. We’ll need you to activate your new profile. Please stay tuned for a message with instructions.

We suspect there will be a few bumps in the road during this transition, and apologize in advance for any inconvenience. Please bear with us as we transition to our new, dramatically improved online presence and operation.

Full summer, and we are thinking about Laura

by Laurie Hertzel | Jul-16-2018

Laura Ingalls Wilder at age 27.


For Vice President/Online Jane Ciabattari's Lit Hub column, Francine Prose offers five classics to read and re-read (think Middlemarch, Bolano).

Minneapolis Star Tribune readers reacted strongly to board member Laurie Hertzel's column about the renaming of the Laura Ingalls Wilder award, so she wrote a follow-up column with their thoughts. She also reviewed the stunning memoir, "The Girl Who Smiled Beads," by Clemantine Wamariya and Elizabeth Weil.

Balakian award winning critic Carlos Lozada writes about Truth, including Michiko Kakutani's "The Death of Truth," Simon Blackburn's "On Truth," and more, in the Washington Post.

Lanie Tankard reviewed Laura Esther Wolfson's debut book of essays, "For Single Mothers Working as Train Conductors," in the July issue of the Woven Tale Press.

Former board member David Biespiel sits down with John Hoppenthaler for an interview at Connotation Press: An Online Artifact to discuss his forthcoming book, "Republic Cafe," book reviewing, political poetry, and more. He also reviews a selection of new books in American Poetry Review, including books by Li-Young Lee, Ange Mlinko, David St. John, David Baker, and Tarfia Faizullah.

Anita Felicelli's essay, "Elsie Piddock Skips in Her Sleep," was published in Romper as part of its "This Book Belongs To" series.

Steve Donoghue reviewed Stuart Kells' "The Library: Catalogue of Wonders"  Frederic Wehrey's "The Burning Shores," both for the National.

Eric Liebetrau reviewed Alissa Quart's "Squeezed" for the Boston Globe.

In her Second Acts column for the Los Angeles Review of Books, Lisa R. Spaar takes a second look at books by Charles Simic and Jacob Shores-Arguello.

Former board member Mark Athitakis reviewed Ottessa Moshfegh's novel "My Year of Rest and Relaxation" for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Hamilton Cain reviewed Ashleigh Young's collection of essays, "Can You Tolerate This?" for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Joan Frank reviewed Rachel Cusk's "Kudos" for the San Francisco Chronicle.

Katharine Coldiron reviewed "New Poets of Native Nations," edited by Heid E. Erdrich, for Sinkhole.

Roxana Robinson reviewed "The Language of Kindness" by Christie Watson for the New York Times.

Your reviews seed this roundup; please send items, including new about your new publications and recent honors, to Please no hyperlinks, just URLs. Please no italics, just plain roman type (even if it breaks your heart. Go ahead and use the Oxford comma, if that helps). Make sure to send links that do not require a subscription or username and password.

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More from the Critical Mass blog

Full summer, and we are thinking about Laura

  For Vice President/Online Jane Ciabattari's Lit Hub column, Francine Prose offers five classics to read and re-read (think Middlemarch,

NBCC Reads: Favorite Books in Translation, Agnes Desarthe’s ‘Hunting Party’

What's your favorite work in translation? That's the question that launches this summer's NBCC Reads series, which draws upon the bookish passions

Critical Notes: Laura Ingalls Wilder Revisited, Crime Beat and Tartan Noir

For the Minneapolis Star Tribune where she is the senior editor for books, NBCC board member Laurie Hertzel wrote her Sunday column about the vote by

Donald Hall, Jim Crace and Rebecca Makkai

Donald Hall, whose collection “The One Day” won the NBCC Poetry award in 1988, and was a past Poet Laurate, died at his home in New Hampshire. His