Reviewers & Critics: The Complete Series

Michael Taeckens

Launched in late 2014, Reviewers & Critics is a regular series of interviews with the professional writers, readers, and thinkers whose job is to start conversations about contemporary literature. Whether they do this work in newspapers or magazines, on blogs or Twitter—and whether you agree with their opinions or not—good book reviewers and critics provide a cultural service that is arguably more important than ever. As more brick-and-mortar bookstores close and the landscape of book publishing shifts and adjusts—to say nothing of the shrinking real estate for traditional reviews—reviewers and critics continue to write and talk about books using whatever medium is available. This series is an attempt to see more clearly the people behind the bylines and Twitter handles and to better understand the role they play in literary culture.

Kate Tuttle
The books editor of the Boston Globe on the shrinking of books coverage, social media and the role of the editor, and the need for higher pay for book critics.

Walton Muyumba
The critic on the importance of respecting the artist’s labor, reviewing books published by independent houses, and more.

Jennifer Szalai of the New York Times
The critic on how she began writing reviews, how she and the Times staff pick books to cover, and how social media affects her work. 

Ismail Muhammad
The critic on combining book reviews and cultural criticism, exposing readers to challenging views, and reading multiple books at once.

Maris Kreizman
The freelance critic on her path to becoming a critic, her reading process, and her favorite publications.

David Canfield of Entertainment Weekly
The books editor of Entertainment Weekly discusses how he picks which titles to review and what he thinks books coverage will look like in ten years.

Bethanne Patrick
The critic discusses her reading process, the perfect pan, and the popular Twitter hashtag she created, #FridayReads. 

Carlos Lozada of the Washington Post
Carlos Lozada, a Pulitzer Prize–winning critic at the Washington Post, on his reading process, the role of social media in his work, and more.

Daniel Mendelsohn of the New York Review of Books
One of the most prominent and liveliest critics in the United States discusses whether or not literary criticism can be taught, the value of negative criticism, and more.

Maureen Corrigan of NPR’s Fresh Air
In this continuing series, a book critic discusses the unique challenges of reviewing for radio and how she picks the books that make it on the air.

Laurie Hertzel of the Star Tribune
In this continuing series, a book critic discusses Minnesota’s thriving literary community and the importance of reviewing small-press titles.

Sam Sacks of the Wall Street Journal
In this continuing series, a book reviewer discusses the art of literary criticism—from the value of negative reviews to critics he admires.

Laila Lalami of the Nation
A novelist and critic discusses the book reviewing process, the role of social media in literary criticism, and much more.

Leigh Haber of O, the Oprah Magazine
The books editor at O, the Oprah Magazine discusses how she got her start in the literary world, the selection criteria behind Oprah’s Book Club picks, and her favorite books of the year.

Kevin Nguyen of GQ
The digital deputy editor of GQ discusses his Best Books of the Month feature and the state of diversity in publishing. 

Parul Sehgal of the New York Times Book Review
Parul Sehgal discusses her path to literary criticism, her passion for international literature, and today’s finest reviewers.

Laura Miller of Slate
Laura Miller discusses how she chooses books, the effect of the Internet on literary criticism, and her belief that reading is as profoundly creative as writing.

Steph Burt
Steph Burt, acclaimed critic, poet, and Harvard professor, talks about their path to becoming a poetry critic, working as both a poet and a critic, and how the internet has greatly expanded the conversations surrounding poetry and poetics.

Carolyn Kellogg of the Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times book editor Carolyn Kellogg talks MFAs, publishing optimism, and how she’s revolutionizing her new position in the shifting landscape of book reviews.

Pamela Paul of the New York Times Book Review
New York Times Book Review editor Pamela Paul shares her insights on the ethical and practical challenges of being the head of the last of the stand-alone newspaper book review sections. 

Michael Schaub
The latest installment of Reviewers & Critics features Michael Schaub, an incisive—and hilarious—literary critic and former Bookslut contributor.

Isaac Fitzgerald of BuzzFeed Books
by Michael Taeckens
Isaac Fitzgerald, editor of BuzzFeed Books, talks about the growth of the site’s book review section, what a typical day in the BuzzFeed office looks like, and how the Internet has changed the discourse around books.

Jennifer Day of the Chicago Tribune
Jennifer Day, the editor of the Chicago Tribune’s Sunday books section, Printer’s Row Journal, discusses her commitment to assembling the best literary criticism on both the local and national level.

Ron Charles of the Washington Post
Ron Charles of the Washington Post and the Totally Hip Video Book Review series gives his insights on the ethical and practical challenges of being a book critic for a major newspaper.

Roxane Gay
The second installment of Reviewers & Critics features longtime book critic and culture essayist Roxane Gay, a true powerhouse in literary circles.

Dwight Garner of the New York Times
In the inaugural installment of our new feature, Reviewers & Critics, New York Times book reviewer Dwight Garner talks about his experience as a critic—the required credentials (or lack thereof), how to cut through the hype, the role of negative reviews, and more.