Critical Mass, The Blog of the National Book Critics Circle

Emerging Critics: Class of 2018

by Elizabeth Taylor | Aug-14-2018

Meet This Year's Class of NBCC's Emerging Critics


Jennie Hann recently completed her Ph.D. in English at Johns Hopkins University, where she served as Associate Editor of the scholarly journal ELH (English Literary History). A lifelong Anglophile with a particular fondness for the nineteenth century, she also holds an M.A. in Victorian Studies from Birkbeck College, University of London, and a B.A. in English from Harvard. She is passionate about European travel, foreign languages, and creative writing, pursuits she combined last year by attending the DISQUIET International Literary Program in Lisbon and the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference in Sicily. Broadly speaking, her work is interested in interpersonal connections and reciprocal influences between writers and artists. Her dissertation examined the Italian encounters of Robert Browning and Henry James, and her current project documents the creative friendships of poet Mark Strand. Twitter: @JennieHann


Natalia Holtzman is a writer based in Ann Arbor, MI. Her essays, stories, and poems have appeared in Electric Literature, Ploughshares, B O D Y, Salt Hill, DIAGRAM, and elsewhere. She earned an MFA from the University of Alabama and is currently pursuing a Master's in Library and Information Science at the University of Michigan. She is at work on a novel about a large family in a small village in the former Yugoslavia.



Tanner Howard is a freelance journalist and activist based in Chicago. They've written for the Guardian, Jacobin, Chicago Review, In These Times, Nylon, and Colorlines, amongst other publications. They're also a member of the Chicago Democratic Socialists of America, organizing for housing justice.



Noah Kulwin is a reporter, critic, and editor based in New York. He is a senior editor at Jewish Currents, a quarterly magazine covering the thought, culture, and activism of the Jewish left. His reportage and criticism have appeared in New York, Bookforum, VICE Magazine, and The Awl. He was previously the technology editor of VICE News, and has written extensively on Silicon Valley, domestic and international politics, and culture. He is a native of Montclair, New Jersey, but he spent a few years in Israel and in the Bay Area before moving to New York.



Jonathan Leal is a scholar-musician based in the Bay Area. A native of the Rio Grande Valley, he received a BA and MA in English from the University of North Texas while working as a percussionist and music educator; he is now a PhD Candidate in Modern Thought & Literature at Stanford University. In recent years, his essays have appeared in publications including The Los Angeles Review of Books, Huizache: The Magazine of Latino Literature, and Caustic Frolic. In 2017, he designed sound and music for the premiere of Cherríe Moraga’s The Mathematics of Love; in 2018, he executive produced Wild Tongue, a compilation album featuring new work by nine bands in the South Texas borderlands. Instagram: @jonathanjleal



Chelsea Leu is a writer and critic whose work has appeared in the New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Electric Literature, The Rumpus, and other publications. She graduated from the University of Chicago with a degree in geology (of all things), and she's now based in the Bay Area, where she also works as a research editor at WIRED magazine. She tweets @ChelseaLeu.



Leena Soman Navani has an MFA in fiction from Bennington College and a Master of International Affairs from Columbia University. Her writing has been published online with Ploughshares, Cleaver Magazine, Harvard Review, and Kenyon Review. She lives in New York and is at work on a story collection. 




Letitia Montgomery-Rodgers is a farmer, book critic, poet, and writer. She earned a B.A. in English from Penn State and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing and M.A. in Applied Linguistics from Old Dominion University. Her poetry and essays are published or forthcoming in IthacaLit, Menacing Hedge, SWWIM Every Day, and Peculiar, among others. Her creative work has been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize in Flash Fiction and was a semifinalist in the 2015 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award and the 2016 Philip Levine Prize for Poetry. Her critical work can be found at Foreword Reviews, The Los Angeles Review, and Literary Mama. A native of Pennsylvania, she makes her home in Buckingham, Virginia where she operates a cow-calf beef farm. Find her talking about books and other passions on Facebook and Twitter. Facebook: @lmontgomeryrodgers | Twitter: @murderopilcrows



Justin Howard Rosier is a fiction writer, editor, and essayist. A lifelong Chicagoan—he used to edit the newsletter for Buddy Guy’s Legends, where he catalogued Grammys and hung out with the man himself on his birthday (among other things). He has a BA in Journalism from Columbia College, and an MFA in Writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he covered fine arts, film, and music for F Newsmagazine; was co-managing editor of the Writing Department’s journal (Collected); and founded Critics’ Union, a magazine that aspires to serve as the public editor for critics. A recipient of the James Nelson Raymond Fellowship, he’s currently at work on a novel. Twitter: @justlikebeirut | Instagram: savile_ros



Hope Wabuke, poet, essayist, and critic, is the author of the chapbooks The Leaving, Movement No.1: Trains, and her, forthcoming in late 2018. She is a contributing editor for The Root, where she originated a column on literature of the global African diaspora, and has published widely in various magazines, among them The Guardian, Salon, Ms. Magazine online, Creative Nonfiction Magazine, and The Sun. Hope has received fellowships and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts,  The New York Times Foundation, the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund for Women Writers, Yale University’s THREAD Writer’s Program, and the Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation (VONA). She is also an Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Tsitsi Dangarembga, Arjun Singh Sethi, Philippe Costamagna, and more

by Victoria Chang | Aug-13-2018

Jenny Bhatt reviewed Stephanie Rosenbloom's "Alone Time" for Popmatters.

Jane Ciabattari recommended ten books to read in August for BBC Culture.

John Domini reviewed Laura Van den Berg's novel, "The Third Hotel" for the Sewanee Review.

Andrew Ervin interviewed Kate Christensen about her novel "The Last Cruise" for the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Jean Huets reviewed Wioletta Greg's "Swallowing Mercury" and Abby Frucht reviewed Dorthe Nor's "So Much for That Winter" for the NBCC Reads Series on Favorite Translated Books.

Alexander Kafka reviewed Philippe Costamagna's "The Eye" for The Washington Post.

Julian Lucas interviewed Tommie Shelby about "To Shape a New World," his edited collection on the political philosophy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., for The Point.

Lisa Peet reviewed Nell Irvin Painter's "Old in Art School" for Bloom.

Jim Ruland reviewed Megan Abbott's novel, "Give Me Your Hand" for San Diego CityBeat.

Martha Anne Toll reviewed Arjun Singh Sethi's "American Hate" for NPR and Aaron Jacobs's "The Abundant Life" for the Washington Independent Review of Books.

David Varno reviewed Tsitsi Dangarembga's book, "This Mournable Body" for The Minneapolis Star Tribune.


Cynthia Haven was named a National Endownment for the Humanities Public Scholar for 2018/19 and her book, "Evolution of Desire: A Life of René Girard" was reviewed in The Los Angeles Review of Books, The San Francisco Chronicle, and the Philadelphia Inquirer. Translations of the book are forthcoming in Portugese and Russian.

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From the Critical Mass blog

Emerging Critics: Class of 2018

Meet This Year's Class of NBCC's Emerging Critics   Jennie Hann recently completed her Ph.D. in English at Johns Hopkins University, where she

Tsitsi Dangarembga, Arjun Singh Sethi, Philippe Costamagna, and more

Jenny Bhatt reviewed Stephanie Rosenbloom's "Alone Time" for Popmatters. Jane Ciabattari recommended ten books to read in August for BBC

NBCC Reads: Abby Frucht’s Suggested Book in Translation: Dorthe Nors’ ‘So Much for That Winter’

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