Critical Notes: Wintry 2018 edition #1: Jamie Quatro, Elizabeth Strout, Elif Shafak, Joan Didion Doc

NBCC board member Anjali Enjeti reviews Jamie Quatro's Fire Sermon for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

NBCC VP/Online Jane Ciabattari's Books to Read in 2018 for BBC Culture, includes new work from NBCC finalists Amy Bloom, Lorrie Moore, Zadie Smith, and William Vollmann.Her Lit Hub column opens with a shout-out to the newly announced Story Prize finalists (including NBCC awarded authors Elizabeth Strout and Ottessa Moshfegh) and the judges for the prize, including NBCC board member Walton Muyumba.

Elizabeth Rosner has a new essay on the hierarchy of suffering in Scoundrel Time.

Julie Azzam reviews Elif Shafak's newest novel, Three Daughters of Eve, for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 

Megan Labrise interviews Neel Mukherjee about his latest novel, A State of Freedom, for Kirkus Reviews.

Lisa R. Spaar reviews a trove of continental fiction that explores loss for the New York Times Book Review .

Since October, NBCC board member Kerri ...

NBCC Board Election Results

This year's election results are in, with eight candidates elected to the eight open seats on the National Book Critics Circle board. Welcome to the newly elected board members:

Kerri Arsenault
Gregg Barrios
Victoria Chang
 Michele Filgate
Ismail Muhammad
Katherine A. Powers
Elizabeth Taylor
Kate Tuttle


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NBCC Board Election Results

January 05, 2018, length:


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NBCC Board Election Deadline January 4th

 The National Book Critics Circle is holding an election to fill 8 board seats that will open in March of 2018. Directors serve 3-year terms and participate throughout the year in a number of ways: discussing the books that are under consideration for our annual awards and helping to run our all-volunteer organization. The following candidates are standing for election. The deadline for voting is tomorrow, January 4. Voting members will receive SurveyMonkey ballots via email. If you haven't received your ballot, contact


I count on the NBCC awards program every year to see deserving books get their props, like Anthony Marra’s A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, Paul Beatty’s The Sellout, and Ross Gay’s Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude. 

I’m the vice president of Indie at Kirkus Reviews. Before Kirkus, I was the senior editor at the American Booksellers Association for a decade and worked closely with independent booksellers. ...

Critical Notes: End of 2017 Edition

Steph Opitz, who has worked on or with the Texas Book Festival, the Brooklyn Book Festival, the PEN World Voices Festival, Literary Arts’s Wordstock, and others, is launching a new festival in Minneapolis called Wordplay (she writes about it here for Lit Hub).

NBCC Sandrof awardee Wendell Berry is one of the three living novelists in the Library of America series (the others are multiple NBCC award winner Philip Roth and Ursula Le Guin). His Port William Novels & Stories, edited by Jack Shoemaker, Editorial Director of Counterpoint Press, who has workd with Berry for more than forty years, are due out in February 2018.

David Varno reviews the first two books in Karl Ove Knausgaard's seasons quartet, Autumn and Winter, for The Brooklyn Rail.

NBCC board member Kerri Arsenault reviews Juli Berwald's Spineless for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Former NBCC board member Colette Bancroft reviews John ...

Emerging Critics Bookchat: Four Tips from Tom Beer


Tom Beer, book editor of Newsday and former NBCC President (2015-2017), met with NBCC’s Emerging Critics in our first advisory Skype session. Emerging Critics Committee Chair Elizabeth Taylor also joined in. Tom spoke about his time as both a freelancer and editor, focusing on how ethical considerations weigh into the work of a critic. Here are four recommendations from Beer about professionalism and ethics of literary criticism.

1: Your Calling Card

First you have to book the job. Tom suggests that having an easy-to-find, easy-to-read website will increase your chances. “It’s your face to the world,” he said, assuring the emerging critics that editors will Google a prospective writer in search of his or her work. For that reason, Beer suggested keeping it simple (a number of free options are available), and updating your website frequently with recent clips. No clips? No problem. Beer pointed the critics toward Rebecca ...

Announcing the finalists for the #NBCCLeonard award

Big news: the NBCC membership has spoken, and the 2017 John Leonard Prize finalists have been chosen. Here’s this year’s superb list:


What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah (Riverhead)

Marlena by Julie Buntin (Holt)

What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons (Viking)

Whereas by Layli Long Soldier (Graywolf)

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado (Graywolf)

My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent (Riverhead)


Nominations for the Leonard prize, for a first book in any genre, are open to any regular voting NBCC member; the six finalists are those titles with the most nominations. A panel of member-volunteers will read the finalists and select the winner, to be announced in January. The John Leonard Prize will be presented at the NBCC Awards Ceremony at The New School in New York on March 15, 2018.

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Announcing the finalists for the #NBCCLeonard ...