Critical Mass, The Blog of the National Book Critics Circle

Colson Whitehead’s stellar return and more books coverage

by Carolyn Kellogg | Jul-15-2019

At the Washington Post, Ron Charles reviews Colson Whitehead's new novel The Nickel Boys, writing that "it shreds our easy confidence in the triumph of goodness and leaves in its place a hard and bitter truth about the ongoing American experiment." At the NY Times, Parul Sehgal, winner of the 2011 NBCC Balakian award, writes that the book is "a tense, nervy performance." And at the L.A. Times, NBCC board member Carolyn Kellogg wrote about Whitehead and his inspiration for the novel -- the Dozier School in Florida and Trump's election -- as well as the time, as a teenager, he was mistakenly picked up by cops. 

Constance Grady, who covers books and culture at Vox, has recently written about: Fleishman is In Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner; a new Jane Eyre ballet; Neal Stephenson's Fall; and Midnight Chicken by Ella Risbridger, "a cookbook that reads like a novel."

Writing for the Associated Press -- look for these reviews at a media outlet near you -- Oline H. Cogdill reviewed the mystery novels Never Look Back by Alison Gaylin; Lock Every Door by Riley Sager and Paper Son by S.J. Rozan. Cogdill also reviewed Almost Midnight by Paul Doiron for the Sun-Sentinel.

Paul Wilner talked to Peter Orner about his short story collection Maggie Brown and Others at Zzzyva.

NBCC board member Lori Feathers reviewed Beyond Babylon by Igiaba Scego, translated from the Italian by Aaron Robertson, for On the Seawall.

Clea Simon rethought beach reads at NBC and reviewed The Ghost Clause by Howard Norman for the Boston Globe.

Jason Diamond talked to fighter-slash-writer Jaed Coffin about his memoir Roughhouse Friday for Inside Hook.

Jake Cline reviewed David Szalay's novel Turbulence at the Washington Post.

Martha Anne Toll reviewed Margarita Liberacki's Three Summers for NPR Books.

Maureen Corrigan reviewed the novel Copperhead by Alexi Zentner for NPR.

At The Maine Edge, Allen Adams reviewed The Porpoise by Mark Haddon and the nonfiction book Archeology from Space by Sarah Parcak, who he also talked to about the book.

Jessica Smith reviewed two poetry collections for Fence Digital: dark // thing by Ashley M. Jones (Pleiades, 2019) and I Can't Talk about the Trees without the Blood by Tiana Clark (Univ. of Pittsburgh Press, 2018). Smith also reviewed Homemade Poems by Lorine Niedecker (CUNY Center for the Humanities, 2012) for Quartlery West.

Lanie Tankard reviewed the short story collection Termination Shocks by Janice Margolis for Woven Tale Press.

Rachael Nevins wrote about Catherine Morland, the heroine of Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey, at Ploughshares.

Nicole Rudick reviewed Sophie Podolski: Le pays où tout est permis/The Country Where Everything Is Permitted for Art in America.

IN OTHER NEWS

NBCC board member Kerri Arsenault has an essay about hunger in Maine at LitHub.

On his blog, Robert Birnbaum looks at the career and a traveling exhibit about musician and poet Leonard Cohen.

Cliff Garstang's novel The Shaman of Turtle Valley has been reviewed in Virginia Living Magazine, Peace Corps Worldwide and Amanda's Book Review.

Rayyan Al-Shawaf's novel When All Else Fails was reviewed by Popmatters and he appeard on Weam Namou's show to talk about the book.

Colson Whitehead. Photograph by Chris Close for Doubleday.

Marie Ponsot remembered and a stack of new book reviews

by Carolyn Kellogg | Jul-08-2019

Poet Marie Ponsot, whose 1998 collection The Bird Catcher won the NBCC award in poetry, died Friday July 5 at age 98. NBCC Board member Tess Taylor penned her obituary in the NY Times.

Martha Anne Toll reviewed When We Were Arabs by Massoud Hayoun for NPR.

Christoph Irmsher reviewed A Spirit of Inquiry by Susannah Gibson for the Wall Street Journal

Julia M. Klein reviewed Catherine Chung's The Tenth Muse for the Chicago Tribune.

NBCC board member David Varno reviewed two books about exile, Springtime In A Broken Mirror by Mario Benedetti and China Dream by Ma Jian for On the Seawall.

Kristen Evans interviewed Sarah Gailey about their debut novel, Magic for Liars, for Kirkus Reviews' Pride issue.

Jeremy Lybarger reviewed The Queen by Josh Levin for The Nation and the photo book April Dawn Allison for Art in America.

Philip Kopper reviewed Tony Horowitz' Spying on the South for the Washington Times.

Paul Gleason reviewed The Gifted School by Bruce Holsinger for the Los Angeles Times.

Lanie Tankard reviewed the novel Children of the Cave by Virve Sammalkorpi, translated by Emily Jeremiah and Fleur Jeremiah, for World Literature Today.

Kathleen Rooney interviewed translators Anne Boyer and Cassandra Gillig about their translations of work by French Venezuean poet Miyó Vestrini for the Poetry Foundation.

Michelle Newby Lancaster reviewed the novel King of the Mississippi by Mike Freedman for Lone Star Literary Life.

At the Maine Edge, Allen Adams reviewed Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes and The History of Living Forever by Jake Wolff and came up with a list of baseball books.

Jeffrey Mannix reviewed Adrian McKinty’s The Chain, Denise Mina’s Conviction and Kelsey Rae Dimberg’s Girl in the Rearview Mirror in the Durango Telegraph.

Rachel Nevins revisited the novel One, None, and One Hundred Thousand by Luigi Pirandello at Necessary Fiction.

Elizabeth Lund reviewed new poetry collections by Gregory Orr, Tess Gallagher, Jim Harrison, and Drew Pisarra for the Washington Post

Marie Ponsot photographed by Tom Birmingham for Knopf.

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From the Critical Mass blog

Colson Whitehead’s stellar return and more books coverage

At the Washington Post, Ron Charles reviews Colson Whitehead's new novel The Nickel Boys, writing that "it shreds our easy confidence in the triumph

Marie Ponsot remembered and a stack of new book reviews

Poet Marie Ponsot, whose 1998 collection The Bird Catcher won the NBCC award in poetry, died Friday July 5 at age 98. NBCC Board member Tess Taylor

Critical Notes: A quiet week, but lots to read

Alexis Burling reviewed three nonfiction books for the San Francisco Chronicle, in honor of Pride week: Indecent Advances: A Hidden History of True

Critical Notes: Aleksandar Hemon, Taffy Brodesser-Akner, and Plenty of Summer Reading

New member Constance Grady of Vox has been busy, covering Elizabeth Gilbert’s novel City of Girls, Jim DeRogatis’ investigative book on R. Kelly, the