Slam bang, it’s the Weekend Update

And continuing award nominations week, we’ve also got the National Book Critics Circle finalists as announced last night at Housing Works in SoHo – and while overall, there’s lots good about each of the six lists, I do find it intriguing that the fiction list is far, far more conservative in nature than were the National Book Awards finalists. Or as Mark Sarvas put it, “it’s a fairly safe and familiar list that doesn’t range as far afield as I might have expected from book critics.”

Anyway, onto the links:**

NYTBR: Lee Siegel does the  Norman Mailer retrospective and even reviews his new novel for a little bit; Joe Queenan wants to be astonished; Henry Alford has some fun with the LRB personal ads; Lorraine Adams is impressed with Elif Shafak’s ambition, but feels her reach isn’t matched to talent quite just yet; and after reading Charles Taylor’s review of Walter Mosley’s “sexistential” novel, visions of the Professor muttering “this segment is entirely too silly” dance in my head.

WaPo Book World: Michael Dirda feels that Alberto Moravia’s tale of conjugal love is time well spent; more Mailer ink, this time courtesy William Boyd as well as Daniel Asa Rose;  and David Masiel finds himself gripped by Dan Simmons’ epic novel THE TERROR.

G&M: Both Amis authors – Kingsley and Martin – get the review treatment for biography and novel, respectively; Andrei Markovits tries to explain why Europe patently dislikes America; and Neil Smith’s short story collection packs serious punch.

Guardian Review: Hermoine Lee offers a glimpse into the life of Edith Wharton; Zadie Smith concludes her treatise for would-be writers; Chris Petit compares the Japan of Ryu Murakami’s PIERCING to the Japan of today; and Jenny Turner ponders the enduring appeal of office romance and politics.

Observer: Tim Adams considers the articles and essays that people claimed to pick up Playboy for month after month; Viv Groskop practically holds her nose reading the first of the Alexander Litvinenko true crime accounts;  and Peter Guttridge reviews new crime fiction by Joseph Wambaugh, Will Elliott, Fred Vargas, Carl Hiaasen and Stephen Leather.

The Times: Kate Figes’ book has the best title ever; Erica Wagner talks with Philip Gourevitch, entrusted with editing the Paris Review; Margaret Atwood reflects on life with her mother; Lawrence Norfolk wonders what’s up with the convergence of Kafka books; and Marcel Berlins reviews new mystery offerings from Linda Fairstein, Barbara Nadel and Vicki Hendricks.

The Scotsman: Will Elliot’s debut novel is all about the perils of clowns, which means I have to procure a copy somehow; Clinton Heylin has provided a new “bible” for the punk movement; and Stuart Kelly looks at new crime fiction from Barbara Nadel, Fred Vargas and Boris Akunin.

The Rest:

Oline Cogdill gives her take on J.A. Jance’s new thriller and Alexandra Sokoloff’s debut horror outing.

The Telegraph’s Jeremy Jehu reviews new thrillers by Joseph Wambaugh and Mark Winegardner, while Susanna Yager praises new crime fiction from Fred Vargas and Gillian Flynn.

The Chicago Sun-Times’ Avis Weathersbee talks to Marcus Sakey, whose first novel is getting a heap of deserved accolades. But a sequel? Don’t bet on it.

The San Jose Mercury’s John Orr reviews recent crime pickings from Sakey, Carol O’Connell and Lincoln Child.

The Charlotte Observer talks with the maternal half of the crime fiction team Charles Todd on the occasion of their newest mystery, A FALSE MIRROR.

Regis Behe meets Margaret Lowrie Robertson, who used the 1980s Lebanon crisis as the backdrop for her debut novel.

David McGrath at the Alabama Press-Register has much good to say about Frank Turner Hollon’s psychological suspense tale BLOOD & CIRCUMSTANCE.

John Walsh talks to Ian McEwan in the aftermath of plagiarism accusations, a new brother and oh yeah, a new novel on the horizon.

Meanwhile, the NY Sun’s Colin Miner interviews Norman Mailer about his life, young Hitler, and that CIA sequel he’s promised to write for years.

And finally, speaking of the Independent, here’s your longlist for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize.