I'm a cultural critic, writer and researcher exploring media, identity and public opinion and the politics of art and entertainment.
In recent years I've written about books and authors for print and online media including The Atlantic, BookPage, Book Riot, The New York Times, NPR, Publishers Weekly, Shondaland, and theGrio.
Links to recent articles, interviews, and reviews are below.
New Year, New Books, New Writing: Select Highlights
Starting the month with reviews of two great new novels:
— One Italian Summer by bestselling author Rebecca Serle blends contemplations of love and loss with adventure. BookPage 3/1/22.
Black Love Matters, edited by Jessica Pryde. "I'm Rooting for Everybody Black" explores how group values and political solidarity are conveyed in stories about Black romance.
Olga Dies Dreaming is a brilliant choice to kickstart your year in reading: a sprawling and insightful saga exploring love, family, culture and the American Dream. BookPage January 4, 2022.
Olga Dies Dreaming author Xochitl Gonzalez generously unpacks her striking debut for me in the January print issue of BookPage.
Essay: I wrote about the artistry and legacy of Nella Larsen's Passing for NPR Books.'Passing' — the original 1929 novel — is disturbingly brilliant. 11/10/21.
I reviewed Tamron Hall's debut thriller for NPR Books: A journalist takes inspiration from cases that haunted her in 'As the Wicked Watch'. 10/30/21.
I reviewed Tiphanie Yanique's Monster in the Middle for NPR: 'Monster in the Middle' muses on the complex nature of romantic love. 10/23/21.
BookPage: As emotionally taxing as it is terrifying, "This Thing Between Us" by Gus Moreno is a scary, spooky read with intellectual depth. Leave the Lights on when you read it. October 2021 Print edition and online.
"African American authors lead the pack for Kirkus Prize nominees." Finalists include: Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, Colson Whitehead, Jocelyn Nicole Johnson, Dr. Tiya Miles and more. My news story for theGrio. September 13, 2021.
Two new lists: dozens of book recommendations across a multitude of categories.
theGrio Top 50: Pandemic or no, Black authors continue to produce outstanding work in a wide variety of genres. So I produced a big, thematic listing of books for us to consider in the waning, hazy days of summer. TheGrio August 6, 2021.
On BookRiot.com: An oasis of certainty in an uncertain world, mood-boosting and increasingly diverse cozy mysteries are the perfect pandemic comfort read. August 11, 2021.
I wrote an article for NPR Books on the heat and hype surrounding recent Booker Prize nominee The Sweetness of Water. August 4, 2021.
I reviewed Rémy Ngamije's sparkling, insightful and sexy debut The Eternal Audience of One. BookPage August 2021. Print and Online.
Acclaimed crime fiction author Malla Nunn discusses her new YA suspense novel Sugar Town Queens, set outside Durban, South Africa.
My review of Sugar Town Queens for BookPage. July 23, 2021.
I reviewed Vanessa Riley's Island Queen for The New York Times:
"A New Novel Gives Wings — and a Megaphone — to a Complex Woman." July 8, 2021.
That piece is also quoted in this roundup by NPR Books editor Petra Mayer: "July Book-Ahead: What We're Excited To Read Next Month".
Review of The Startup Wife by Tahmima Anam. BookPage July 2021. Print and Online.
Review of The View Was Exhausting by Mikaella Clements and Onjuli Datta.
"Best friends in a fake relationship: What could go wrong?" Q and A with the authors of The View Was Exhausting: BookPage July 6, 2021.
Other Recent Highlights
Review of The Other Black Girl, an innovative novel of suspense and social satire, by Zakiya Dalila Harris. BookPage June 2021. Print and online.
Review of the new legal thriller by a beloved public figure: "Stacey Abrams evokes ‘Trust Black Women’ with new book ‘While Justice Sleeps’ " The Grio May 20, 2021.
Review of People We Meet On Vacation by Emily Henry. BookPage online May 11, 2021.
Review of Red Island House by Andrea Lee. BookPage April 2021. Print and online.
Review of "Wild Rain": In Beverly Jenkins's Romance Novels, Black History is Front and Center. The New York Times February 9, 2021.
Review of The Devil You Know by Charles Blow. The Grio, February 4, 2021.
BookPage June 2021
Olivia Dade and Rebekah Weatherspoon: On fat positivity, fandom and fame-adjacency. BookPage, Online 10/27/20
Rebekah Weatherspoon" Publishers Weekly, Print and Online 9/28/20
Alyssa Cole on her striking new thriller about race and gentrification, When No One Is Watching. BookPage, Print and Online September 2020.
Feature: "Sweet and Substantial"
BookPage, June 2021. A feature on LGBTQ romance with reviews ofThe Queer Principles of Kit Webb by Cat Sebastian and Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake by Alexis Hall.
Feature: "New arrivals, new love, bad timing"
BookPage, April 6, 2021. With reviews of Life's Too Short by Abby Jimenez and Knit, Purl, A Baby and A Girl by Hettie Bell.
Senate GOP Still Hasn’t Renewed the Violence Against Women Act. It’s Been 20 Months.
Courier Newsroom December 17, 2020
Love and Liberation
BookPage December 16, 2020
Book Riot Nov 3, 2020
Casting Spells Upon Your Shelves: A feature on feminist literary witch tales.
BookPage, Print and Online October 2020
12 Must-Read Romances With Great Fat Representation.
Book Riot Sep 24, 2020
The Troubling Gap Between Fat Representation and Fat Acceptance In Romance
Book Riot Sep 10, 2020
Love In the Public Eye
Finding Black Joy in Romance Novels
The Grio 7/24/20
Black Romance Novels Matter Too
INDIVIDUAL BOOK REVIEWS
"Tamika Mallory’s ‘State of Emergency,’ a front-row seat to a masterful political performance"
Nonfiction Book Review. The Grio May 14, 2021.
"...Jones is already a master stylist, writing gorgeous, lyrical and readable prose about some of the ugliest things that human beings feel and do to one another. Sometimes the prose reads like scripture. At other times, it’s poetry." —BookPage review of The Prophets
An Extraordinary Lord by Anna Harrington. June 29, 2021
The Road Trip by Beth O'Leary. June 1, 2021
Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert. March 1, 2021
How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Cherie Jones. February 5, 2021
The Prophets by Robert Jones, Jr. Print and Online January 2021
Crosshairs by Catherine Hernandez. Online 12/8/20
White Ivy by Susie Yang. Print and Online November 2020
If the Boot Fits by Rebekah Weatherspoon 10/27/20
Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade 10/6/20
When No One Is Watching by Alyssa Cole 9/1/20
You Lucky Dog by Julia London 8/25/20
Kept Animals by Kate Milliken. Print June 2020
Until the End by Juno Rushdan 5/26/20
Hearts on Hold by Charish Reid on Smart Bitches, Trashy Books
The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa on The Book Queen's Book Palace
House Rules by Ruby Lang on Smart Bitches, Trashy Books
Alyssa Cole, in conversation with Glory Edim and Carole Bell, discusses When No One is Watching. October 25, 2020.
Bunk and the History of Hoaxes with Kevin Young: My in-depth interview with the acclaimed poet, Poetry Editor of the New Yorker, and Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Kevin Young, about his second nonfiction book, Bunk. April 2018 At MIT. Available as a video, podcast, or summary transcript.
A Tribute to the Dream with Renee Goldsberry: I enjoyed a wide-ranging and emotional conversation with the Tony award-winning actress from Hamilton about art, politics, and life as part of the keynote event at Northeastern University’s MLK day celebration in 2017.
CaribBelle at www.cvbell.com
Dr. Carole V. Bell My Google Scholar profile