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Colette Bancroft, Times Book Editor

Colette Bancroft

Colette Bancroft is the book editor of the Tampa Bay Times. She joined the Times in 1997 and has been a news editor, general assignment features writer and food and travel writer, as well as a frequent contributor of reviews of books, theater and other arts. She became book editor in 2007. Before joining the Times, Bancroft was a reporter and editor at the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson and an instructor in the English departments of the University of South Florida and the University of Arizona. Bancroft grew up in Tampa.

Phone: (727) 893-8435


  1. When civilians are caught in crossfire


    War is never neat. Civilians have always suffered and died in warfare just as soldiers have, and customs and laws governing how wars are fought have been created to try to minimize that problem — its complexities made starkly clear by current refugee crises around the globe.

    As Thomas W. Smith writes in his new book, Human Rights and War Through Civilian Eyes, "Humanitarian law continues to evolve. This shouldn't be surprising. The character of war has changed — and continues to change — in ways that demand more attention to the protection of individuals caught in its path." ...

  2. Review: 'We Are Charleston' finds wisdom, grace in a savage crime's aftermath


    It was an unimaginable crime: nine church members gathered for Bible study slaughtered in a historic church by a stranger whom they had welcomed to join them as they talked about the Gospel. He sat with them for an hour before drawing his gun.

    In the aftermath of that horror came something just as astonishing, in an utterly different way: the families of those victims speaking out to forgive their killer. ...

    A church youth group from Dothan, Ala., prays at the Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., on July 17, 2015, one month after a shooting at the church left nine people dead, including a state legislator, ministers and a librarian.
  3. Review: Shacochis' 'Kingdoms in the Air' an adventure for the mind


    On the way to an ancient town in the highest reaches of the Himalayas, horses scramble up a nearly vertical mountainside path, terrified riders clinging to their manes. In remotest Siberia, a fishing trip turns into an encounter with Russian gangsters in the caviar trade, men as dangerous as the area's plentiful grizzly bears. In the Caribbean in the 1970s, Bob Shacochis writes, "you flew Cessnyca and its nine-passenger, twin-engined Beechcraft, apparently maintained by obeah priests. ... On my inaugural flight during December's stormy weather, the f------ pilot knelt on the tarmac, crossed himself, and prayed before boarding the plane in front of me."...

    Readers are transported to Nepal’s remote kingdom of Mustang in “Kingdoms in the Air,” the longest of 13 nonfiction pieces in Kingdoms in the Air: Dispatches From the Far Away.
  4. Events: Randy Wayne White to discuss 'Seduced' in Tampa


    Book Talk

    Randy Wayne White (Seduced) will discuss and sign his thriller at noon Oct. 23, presented by Inkwood Books at Four Green Fields Irish Pub, 205 W Platt St., Tampa.

    Ann Hood (The Book That Matters Most) will discuss and sign her novel at 11 a.m. Oct. 25 at Bookstore1, 1359 Main St., Sarasota. Only books purchased at the store are eligible for signing....

  5. Drink of the week: the Velvet Devil Merlot 2014

    Bars & Spirits

    Need a spirit with the spirit of Halloween for those creepy cool parties coming up?

    The 2014 Velvet Devil Merlot, with its pitchfork label, has the theme down pat, and it's wicked delicious as well. It's widely available at about $15 a bottle.

    Made by Charles Smith Wines, a Washington state outfit led by the eponymous self-taught winemaker, this deep-red wine is made mostly from merlot grapes from several vineyards, with touches of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and malbec to add complexity....

  6. Bancroft: Dylan Nobel win might open door for other literary genres


    How does it feel?

    On Thursday morning, the Nobel Prize committee outdid itself for surprising announcements, naming American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan the winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize for literature for "having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition."

    The prize committee's permanent secretary, Sara Danius, called him "a great poet in the English-speaking tradition." Another member, Per Wastberg, said Dylan is "probably the greatest living poet."...

    Bob Dylan in New York in 1963. (William C. Eckenberg/The New York Times)
  7. Critical Conversation: Colette Bancroft and Jay Cridlin on Bob Dylan's Nobel Prize (with video)

    Pop Culture

    What does it mean that Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize in Literature? Times Book Critic Colette Bancroft and Pop Music/Culture Critic Jay Cridlin weigh in.


    Jay: I can honestly say I didn't have a horse in this race. Were you surprised? Were you rooting for anybody?

    Colette: I was surprised. Dylan shows up almost every year as a possibility for the Nobel in Literature. Betting shops in England take bets on who is likely to win, and in the last two years, it's been people like Philip Roth, Haruki Murakami, and a number of other international writers, some of which very few Americans have heard of. Dylan shows up on the list, and this year his odds were 50 to 1. There are a lot of contenders who are more traditional literary figures — great novelists, great poets — but for a long time, he's been perceived as a more literary writer than a lot of singer-songwriters....

    Bob Dylan before being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in the East Room of the White House in Washington, on May 29, 2012. Dylan, one of the world's most influential rock musicians, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature on Oct. 13, 2016, for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition, in the words of the Swedish Academy. (Luke Sharrett/The New York Times)
  8. Review: Randy Wayne White's 'Seduced' a tale of citrus, pythons and intrigue


    In his latest novel, Seduced, Randy Wayne White wastes no time getting the story into high gear. By Page 7, southwest Florida fishing guide Hannah Smith is gazing down at a dead man, who is naked except for a Stetson placed "strategically over his pelvis."

    The man has died in the bed of Hannah's mother, Loretta. Harney Chatham was a former lieutenant governor and an "old-time Florida millionaire who, twenty years ago, had been my mother's secret lover," Hannah tells us, and it seems that romance was not strictly historical. Although the 80-year-old Chatham looks to have died of natural causes, his body being found in Loretta's bed is likely to cause problems with his much younger current wife, not to mention attracting media attention....

  9. Books for young readers abound at Times Festival of Reading


    At the Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading on Nov. 12, young readers will find plenty to interest them. • Six of the festival's featured authors will be presenting books for kids from ages 7 to 17. Whether it's the story of a boy who can talk to sharks or a girl who learns about the power of magic, a novel about a girl who goes to a school that teaches how to make love charms or one about a teenager dealing with a family mystery, a fanciful graphic novel about a time-traveling Egyptian queen or an engaging novel about the real-life childhood friendship between authors Harper Lee and Truman Capote, there are books for every kid who loves them. • These authors will be talking about and signing their books at the festival this year....

    Paul Durham
  10. Events: Okey Ndibe to discuss 'Never Look an American in the Eye' at Inkwood


    Book Talk

    Okey Ndibe (Never Look an American in the Eye: A Memoir of Flying Turtles, Colonial Ghosts, and the Making of a Nigerian American) will discuss and sign his book at the One Book, One Nightstand event at 7 p.m. Oct. 19 at Inkwood Books, 216 S Armenia Ave., Tampa. Order the book from the store to ensure a seat at

    Events are free unless otherwise noted. To place an item in Book Talk, send author's name, book title, appearance time, date, venue name and address, admission cost (if any) and a contact phone number to (with "Book Talk" in subject line) or Colette Bancroft, Tampa Bay Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. Deadline is 14 days before publication....

  11. USF professor Hopler talks about being a National Book Award finalist


    When the finalists for the 2016 National Book Awards were announced on Oct. 6, Tampa was represented: Jay Hopler, a professor in the University of South Florida's creative writing program, is a finalist in the poetry category for The Abridged History of Rainfall, which will be published by McSweeney's on Nov. 15. The NBA winners will be announced on Nov. 16 at a gala in New York City....

    Hay Hopler's new poetry collection will be published on Nov. 15.
  12. Four National Book Awards finalists have Florida connections


    Florida made a strong showing this morning when the National Book Foundation announced the finalists for its 2016 National Book Awards in four categories.

    Jay Hopler, a professor in the creative writing program at the University of South Florida in Tampa, is a finalist in the poetry  category for his collection The Abridged History of Rainfall. The book, inspired by the death of his father, will be published by McSweeney's in November....

    Jay Hopler, a USF professor, is a finalist for the National Book Award in poetry.
  13. Review: Leavitt's 'Cruel Beautiful World' depicts a fractured family and the '60s


    Teenage girls run away from home every day. Back in the late 1960s, when Caroline Leavitt's Cruel Beautiful World is set, they were running away even more, donning their love beads and bell bottoms and hopefully sticking out a thumb on the side of the road, bound (at least theoretically) for Greenwich Village or Haight-Ashbury.

    Leavitt's new novel, her 11th (after bestsellers Is This Tomorrow and Pictures of You), focuses on what happens to one young girl who runs away — and the impact of her departure on the family she leaves behind....

  14. Review: Beth Macy's 'Truevine' a real-life story of sideshow freaks and family ties


    More than a century old, the story sounds like a dark fairy tale, a cautionary fable mothers might tell their misbehaving kids: Two little boys, brothers, are working in the fields one day when a man comes along, offers them candy — and steals them. They're put to work, without pay, in a circus sideshow as freaks, told their mother is dead. Then, many years later, there she is in their audience, come to take them home again....

    Harriett Muse
  15. Notable: Creepy reads



    Creepy reads

    Time to start celebrating Halloween! Here are three paperbacks to keep you up late.

    The Haunting of Hill House (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) by Shirley Jackson, with a new introduction by Laura Miller, celebrates the author's centennial with a new edition of her classic tale of terror, an influence on just about every contemporary horror writer. ...