July, 2018

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 NBCCCritics@gmail.com. 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.


Laurie Hertzel is the senior editor for books at the Minneapolis Star Tribune and a board member of the NBCC.

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

by Michelle Bailat-Jones | Jul-13-2018

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 of NBCC members and honorees. (Previous NBCC Reads here.) Tell us why you love the book (in 500 words or less) be it a new one, like Sayaka Murata’s quirky little novel, Convenience Store Woman, or something a bit older, such as Stefan Zweig’s evocative memoir, The World of Yesterday. The deadline is August 3, 2018. Please email your submission to NBCC Board member Lori Feathers: lori@interabangbooks.com 

Agnès Desarthe’s Hunting Party (Unnamed Press; tr. Christiana Hills) is a slim novel bursting with story, and like any good fairytale it achieves both menace and charm. Set in an unnamed village in France, the novel follows Tristan, young and fairly recently married to Emma, as he sets off to go hunting with three local men. Tristan and Emma are new to the village, and Emma, a writer, believes Tristan’s invitation to the hunt is a sign they might finally be integrating. Tristan is no hunter, but he is good-natured and kind, and he is willing to rise to the occasion despite the very obvious differences in temperament, experience, and character between him and the other men. He even attempts to hunt but ends up wounding his animal instead. Not wanting to be caught out, he hides the wounded rabbit in his bag—and the first of the novel’s magic begins, as Tristan and the animal begin a subtly accomplished philosophical dialogue on life and love.

Initially it seems that Hunting Party will be a lighthearted portrait of a generational and urban vs. city clash. The book succeeds already on this level, with wit and a certain perceptive satire. However, a darker, more dangerous tone creeps onto the pages as the story unfolds and the weather turns, as the men move deeper into the forest and we learn more about Tristan’s past and current life: the death of his fragile mother when he was still young, his grief-inflected sojourn to England at the expense of a benefactor, how he met Emma and her often dominating, even aggressive behavior.

An accident strikes the small party, a thoughtless, even absurd accident, and the four men will be tested. Through it all, Tristan reflects on the life that has brought him to this particular moment while the wounded captive in his bag quite rightly comments on the absurdity of humankind. As a storm threatens and then hits, the novel’s undercurrents of masculinity-in-question, female violence, and the power and mystery of nature rise to the surface and become a flood. The result, managed splendidly by the award-winning Desarthe, is superb and even carnivalesque.


Michelle Bailat-Jones is a translator, writer, and freelance book critic. Her fiction, translations, poetry, and criticism have appeared in various journals including The Kenyon Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Rumpus, Necessary Fiction, The Quarterly Conversation, World Literature Today, and PANK. Her second novel, Unfurled, is forthcoming in October 2018 (Ig Publishing).

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

by Elizabeth Taylor | Jul-09-2018

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 The Association for Library Service to Children (a division of the American Library Association) to rename the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award the "Children’s Literature Legacy Award."

In a following column, Hertzel shared reaction from readers, but  saved the last word for Caroline Fraser, author of NBCC Biography and Pulitzer Prize winner “Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder.” It read: “Each generation revises the literary canon,” Fraser wrote in the Washington Post. “While the answer to racism is not to impose purity retroactively or to disappear titles from shelves, no 8-year-old Dakota child should have to listen to an uncritical reading of ‘Little House on the Prairie.’ And Fraser added: “But no white American should be able to avoid the history it has to tell.”

Aside from the Wilder beat, NBCC Hertzel reviewed "The Girl Who Smiled Beads" by Clemantine Wamariya and Elizabeth Weil and “Dear Mrs. Bird” by A.J. Pearce for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Priscilla Gilman was featured in LitHub’s Bookmarks feature ‘Secrets of a Book Critic' and she reviewed Ottessa Moshfegh's "My Year of Rest and Relaxation" for the Boston Globe. 

For PopMatters, Linda Levitt reviewed "Flash: The Making of Weegee the Famous"  by Christopher Bonanos and Bright Signals: A History of Color Television  by Susan Murray.  In addtion, her first book, Culture, Celebrity and the Cemetery: Hollywood Forever, was  just published by Routledge. 

Board member Mary Ann Gwinn has been on the crime beat of late. For Newsday, she reviewed "City of Devils: The Two Men Who Ruled the Underworld of Old Shanghai" by Paul French and for the Seattle Times did a roundup of three new true-crime books: “Conan Doyle for the Defense” by Margalit Fox, “Blood and Ivy” by Paul Collins and “The Feather Thief” by  Kirk Wallace Johnson.

Besides the suffering, Board member Daisy Fried brought a little sex and surrealism to the world in the form of reviews of new books of poetry by Diane Seuss, Analicia Sotelo, Jenny George and Bianca Stone for the New York Times.

Paul Wilner wrote about Langston Hughes’ California stints for the Monterey County Weekly.

Joan Gelfand’s reviewed “Landings" by Andrena Zawinski for the Los Angeles Review of Books.               

Clea Simon reviewed Jordy Rosenberg’s “Confessions of a Fox” for The Boston Globe and her own mystery “Cross My Path” (Severn House) has just been published in the U.S.

Fran Bigman interviewed Sayaka Murata, author of “Convenience Store Woman” for LitHub.

Sarah Leamy reviewed “The Misfit’s Manifesto” by Lidia Yuknavitch for the Santa Fe Writers Project Quarterly.

Alison Buckholtz reviewed Lauren Groff’s short story collection "Florida" for the Florida Times-Union.  

Bob Hoover reviewed "Famous Father Girl" by Jamie Bernstein and "Pops" by Michael Chabon for the Dallas Morning News and "Famous Father Girl" for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Theodore Kinni reviewed Malcolm Mackay’s Jamieson crime novels for Los Angeles Review of Books.  

In other news, this summer's NBCC Reads: What's Your Favorite Book in Translation? Deadline August 3, 2018.

This summer the National Book Critics Circle will highlight favorite books in translation for the latest installment of our “NBCC Reads” blog series. We would be delighted to share your short article (500 words or less) about a favorite book, in any genre, that's been translated into English be it a new work, like Sayaka Murata’s quirky little novel, "Convenience Store Woman," or something a bit older, such as Stefan Zweig’s evocative memoir, "The World of Yesterday."

Please email your article to NBCC Board member Lori Feathers: lori@interabangbooks.com. The deadline is August 3, 2018. We will begin posting submissions later this month and continue posts throughout the summer!

And don't forget to renew your membership, and invite your book reviewing friends to join us. Details here.

Your reviews seed this roundup; please send items, including news about your new publications and recent honors, to NBCCCritics@gmail.com. Make sure to send links that do not require a subscription or username and password.


Elizabeth Taylor, co-editor of The National Book Review and Literary Editor at Large of the Chicago Tribune, has served as President of the NBCC. The co-author of “American Pharaoh,” she edited both the Books and Sunday Magazine sections of the Chicago Tribune, and was a national correspondent for Time magazine, based in New York and then Chicago

Donald Hall, Jim Crace and Rebecca Makkai

by Elizabeth Taylor | Jul-02-2018

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 passing was widely noted, from the Guardian to the Washington Post.  The New England poet, was remembered by Mike Pride, Editor Emeritus of the Concord Monitor and retired Pulitzer Prize administrator, for The National Book Review, and also photographed his friend, known for his beautiful poems about the natural world, love, loss and baseball, seated in his favorite blue chair last summer.

A few lines of Hall's to remember:

     Old man remembers to old man

     How bat struck ball upon this plain

     Seventy years ago, before  

Jeff Baker recently reviewed  "Bruce Lee: A Life" by Matthew Polly for the Seattle Times and "The Comeback" by Daniel de Vise, also for the Seattle Times. 

Robert Allen Papinchak reviewed Jim Crace's "The Melody" for the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Rebecca Renner reviewed Elizabeth Rush’s "Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore" for Earth Island Journal .

Marthine Satris's review of Tara Westover's memoir "Educated" was published in The Millions.

Paul Gleason, one of our inaugural class of Emerging Critics, reviewed  "The Devil's Music: How Christianity Inspired, Condemned, and Embraced Rock 'n' Roll" for The Hedgehog Review and  Thomas Piketty's "Top Incomes in France in the Twentieth Century" and Naomi Beck's "Hayek and the Evolution of Capitalism" for Pacific Standard.                   

Rebekah Denn  reviewed "Uncensored" by Zachary Wood for The Christian Science Monitor and interviewed Angela Garbes of "Like A Mother" for The Seattle Times  and for Seattle's Child wrote about when a child should read “A Game Of Thrones” and talked with "Galloping Gourmet" Graham Kerr about his cookbook reissue for The Washington Post.  

Past NBCC Board member Celia McGee reviewed "There There" by Tommy Orange and "Great Believers" by Rebecca Makkai for The National Book Review. 

Sarah Johnson reviewed Maria Dahvana Headley’s forthcoming "The Mere Wife" for Booklist.

Wayne Catan reviews Mark Lurie's "Galantiere: The Lost Generation's Forgotten Man" for The Hemingway Review blog. 

In other news, this summer's NBCC Reads:What's Your Favorite Book in Translation?

This summer the National Book Critics Circle will highlight favorite books in translation for the latest installment of our “NBCC Reads” blog series. We would be delighted to share your short article (500 words or less) about a favorite book, in any genre, that's been translated into English be it a new work, like Sayaka Murata’s quirky little novel, "Convenience Store Woman," or something a bit older, such as Stefan Zweig’s evocative memoir, "The World of Yesterday."

Please email your article to NBCC Board member Lori Feathers: lori@interabangbooks.com. We will begin posting submissions later this month and continue posts throughout the summer!

And don't forget to renew your membership, and invite your book reviewing friends to join us. Details here.

 

Your reviews seed this roundup; please send items, including new about your new publications and recent honors, to NBCCCritics@gmail.com. Make sure to send links that do not require a subscription or username and password.


June, 2018

Origins of Asperger’s in Nazi Vienna, Poetry by Hayes, Twemlow and Bland, and much more

by Daisy Fried | Jun-27-2018

Former NBCC board member Mark Athitakis interviewed Lydia Millet for the Barnes & Noble Review and Rebecca Makkai for Kirkus Reviews.

Michelle Bailat-Jones reviewed Katja Petrowskaja’s Maybe Esther (tr. Shelley Frisch) for Necessary Fiction. She also interviewed Frisch about the book’s translation for Necessary Fiction’s series, Translation Notes. 

Jenny Bhatt reviewed Arif Anwar's debut novel, The Storm, for Pop Matters. Her review of William Trevor's posthumously-published short story collection, Last Stories, also appears at PopMatters. 

Celia Bland's latest poetry collection, Cherokee Road Kill,  was reviewed by William Doreski in the current print issue of Rain Taxi,​ ​and by Cassie Pruyn in Blackbird, the poetry magazine of Virginia Commonwealth University 

Hamilton Cain’s review of Carl Zimmer's She Has Her Mother’s Laugh ran in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. 

Tobias Carroll wrote about Nikhil Singh's Taty Went West at Tor.com and new/newly-reissued books by Bethany C. Morrow, Michael Cisco, and Kathy Acker

Board Member and VP/Online Jane Ciabattari talked to Cara Black about five books that reveal different sides of Paris, from Marguerite Duras’ The Lover to Eloise.  She also spoke with A.M. Homes about five short story collections, including NBCC fiction finalists Jayne Anne Phillips' Black Tickets and two collections by NBCC Sandrof award winner Joyce Carol Oates. 

Katharine Coldiron wrote about the similarities between the novels of Sean Penn and Amanda McKittrick Ros for the Millions. 

Board member and VP Membership Anjali Enjeti reviewed Zora Neale Hurston's Barracoon for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Kelly Flynn's review of Tatiana Ryckman's I Don't Think of You (Until I Do) appears at Your Impossible Voice:  Her own  new flash fiction ("Determinants") at Maudlin House.

Joan Frank reviewed Rebecca Makkai's The Great Believers for the San Francisco Chronicle.

Priscilla Gilman reviewed Rachel Cusk's Kudos for the Boston Globe.

Board member Walton Muyumba reviewed Terrance Hayes' American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assasin for the Los Angeles Times. 

David Nilsen’s interview with Nick Twemlow regarding his poetry collection Attributed to the Harrow Painter has been published by Full Stop.

Robert Allen Papinchak reviewed Lauren Groff's Florida for the National Book Review.

Joe Peschel wrote about Carlo Rovelli's The Order of Time in The Washington Post. 

Lanie Tankard's review of the novel Wait, Blink: A Perfect Picture of Inner Life by Norwegian author Gunnhild Øyehaug appears in the July issue of World Literature Today. 

For the Los Angeles Times, NBCC president Kate Tuttle reviewed Asperger’s Children: The Origins of Autism in Nazi Vienna, a book that closely examines the history of the psychiatrist Hans Asperger, who has been a hero to neurodiversity advocates but who, author Edith Sheffer contends, also sent children to die during the Nazi era. 

Your reviews seed this roundup; please send items, including new about your new publications and recent honors, to NBCCCritics@gmail.com. Make sure to send links that do not require a subscription or username and password.

Summer books, Father’s Day and interviews galore

by Laurie Hertzel | Jun-18-2018

It's high summer, a time to slow down; a time for beach reading and sailing and fishing and napping and vacation, but book critics never rest. We have a ton of wonderful links to reviews, interviews, stories and awards. Read on:

 

Reviews and columns:

NBCC Board member Lori Feathers' latest "Best of the B-Sides" feature at Words Without Borders is "Keeping House," a look at four novels in which a family’s home is integral to the story.

Board member David Varno reviewed Patrick Chamoiseau's "Slave Old Man" for the Brooklyn Rail. 

NBCC VP/Online Jane Ciabattari's BBC Culture column includes A.M. Homes' new story collection, Maria Hummel's new novel, Amanda Stern's Little Panic, and a novel by a Chilean author about an enigmatic novelist inspired by Clarice Lispector in which former NBCC board member and biography finalist Ben Moser has a cameo appearance. 

NBCC Board member Laurie Hertzel wrote her weekly column for the Minneapolis Star Tribune about sadness in children's books. She also interviewed librarians about summer book recommendations, and curated the summer books guide.

NBCC board member Michael Schaub reviews Richard Rhodes' "Energy" for NPR.

NBCC member Claude Peck reviewed "Reporter," by Seymour Hersh, in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Former board member and Balakian recipient Steven G. Kellman reviewed Seymour Hersh's "Reporter" for the Forward. He also reviewed  Mario Vargas Llosa's "The Neighborhood" for the Barnes and Noble Review.

In advance of Father's Day, the Washington Post published Michael Lindgren's roundup of three books about fatherhood. This unlikely experiment, he said, allows him to attempt to exercise his sardonic side.

Jenny Bhatt reviewed Paul Theroux's "Figures in a Landscape" for PopMatters--his most polished collection to date, she says, adding, "In addition to looking at the essays that are filled with sharp observations about cultural icons, insights about literature, and accounts of eventful journeys, I also look at why we need good, sharp travel-writing now more than ever."

Lanie Tankard reviewed Bethany C. Morrow's debut novel "MEM" from Unnamed Press for the June "Eye on the Indies" column in The Woven Tale Press.

Carol Iaciofano reviewed Meghan MacLean Weir's novel "The Book of Essie," for WBUR's The ARTery.

In The Brooklyn Rail, John Domini praises "Because," a memoir in poetry by Joshua Mensch. Also in the Brooklyn Rail, Domini calls Elle Nash’s debut novel, "Animals Eat Each Other," “stealthy, ticklish, and altogether satisfying:” 

Wayne Catan reviewed Daniel Swift's "The Bughouse: The Poetry, Politics, and Madness of Ezra Pound" for the Idaho Statesman on June 10. 

Laverne Frith reviewed "4:30 Movie" by Donna Masini for the New York Journal of Books.

Frank Freeman reviewed "Lives of Eminent Philosophers"  for University Bookman.

Hamilton Cain wrote a joint review of Adam Rutherford's "A Brief History of Everyone Who Lived" and David Reich's "Who We Are and How We Got That Way," for Barnes & Noble Review.

Michael Magras reviewed "Good Trouble" by Joseph O'Neill for the Houston Chronicle.

Diane Scharper reviewed "Warlight" by Booker Prize winning novelist Michael Ondaatje for America magazine.

Jason Berry reviewed "From the Kingdom of Kongo to Congo Square" by Jeroen Dewulf for New Orleans Magazine.

Katharine Coldiron wrote about the similarities between the novels of Sean Penn and Amanda McKittrick Ros for the Millions.

Ellen Prentiss Campbell's review of Nathaniel Popkin's unique new novel, "Everything is Borrowed," is online at Fiction Writers Review.

And here is Mr Popkin again! For the print (not online) version of Rain Taxi, Nathaniel Popkin reviewed the English translation of Hector Abad’s novel "The Farm," published by Archipelago.

 

And other nice stuff:

Longtime board member Cynthia Haven's new book, Evolution of Desire: A Life of René Girard, went into a second printing after six weeks, and is now being translated into Portuguese for a Brazilian edition. It was reviewed last week by Marilyn Yalom in the Wall Street Journal. It was also reviewed in the current Stanford Magazine.

David Nilsen interviews Joey Comeau about his newest novel,"Malagash," for the Spring issue of The Puritan Magazine. 

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, whose novel "Americanah" won the NBCC fiction award (and whose "Half of a Yellow Sun" was a fiction finalist) has won the PEN Harold Pinter Prize, which honors a writer of “outstanding literary merit” who – in the words of Pinter’s speech on winning the Nobel prize in 2005 – casts an “unflinching, unswerving” gaze upon the world and shows a “fierce intellectual determination … to define the real truth of our lives and our societies.

NBCC board member Victoria Chang was interviewed in Palette Poetry.

In time for summer, a podcast of NBCC award winner Daniel Mendelsohn and Michael Cunningham in conversation from the Hawthorne Art Barn in Provincetown.

"American Suite," the first book of poetry by former NBCC board member and Balakian winner Steven G. Kellman, will be published in August by Finishing Line Press. 

NBCC Sandrof award winner for lifetime achievement Lawrence Ferlinghetti's experimental new book is due out for his 100th birthday in 2019.

Longtime NBCC member Abby Frucht has a new short story, "Peeping Tom," at Solstice literary magazine.

Bradley Sides interviewed Lillian Li for The Millions and Nick White for Electric Literature.

 

Your reviews seed this roundup; please send items, including new about your new publications and recent honors, to NBCCCritics@gmail.com. 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.


Laurie Hertzel is the senior editor for books at the Minneapolis Star Tribune and chairman of the NBCC autobiography committee.

NBCC Reads: What’s Your Favorite Book in Translation?

by Lori Feathers | Jun-12-2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This summer we’re asking NBCC members, finalists and award winners to write about a favorite book, in any genre, that's been translated into English. Tell us why you love the book (in 500 words or less) be it a new one, like Sayaka Murata’s quirky little novel, Convenience Store Woman, or something a bit older, such as Stefan Zweig’s evocative memoir, The World of Yesterday. Please email your submission to NBCC Board member Lori Feathers: lori@interabangbooks.com  (The NBCC Reads series draws upon the bookish passions of NBCC members and honorees; you can browse NBCC Reads series dating back to 2007, beginning with a post from former NBCC president John Freeman,  here.) 


Lori Feathers is a freelance book critic who lives in Dallas, Texas. Her reviews and features are published in several online and print publications including The Los Angeles Review of Books, Words Without Borders, The Rumpus, Full Stop, World Literature Today, and Rain Taxi. She is the creator and author of Words Without Borders’ regular feature, “Best of the B-Sides.” She was a fiction judge for the 2017 and 2018 Best Translated Book Awards. Lori co-owns Interabang Books in Dallas, where she works as the store’s book buyer

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