Her Pulitzer Prize winning collection Late Wife ripped my heart out. Emerson explores grief, loss, insecurity, and feelings of displacement with cutting precision.
No other writer helps me “see” the feelings of her characters so clearly and so deeply. Every story I have read by Munro has stayed with me- the characters, the situations, the heartbreak, and always the creeping sense that something is not quite right.
When I first read Brooks, it was like a landslide of realization. She pares down everything she touches, adds music, and leaves the reader with truth.
In my early twenties, Geek Love reminded me that it is ok to be weird, to love what is odd, to seek out what is strange. Dunn’s daring probe of nature vs nurture was like an anthem to the real me– the one who had been going undercover far too often.
Smith’s work is a call to action– she demands readers reevaluate their own experiences and realities, all with a beauty and a clarity that I can only aim for in my own writing (and search for as an editor). I teach her essays, her novels, and her short stories in my university classes because words like Smith’s will change the world.
Janna Grace lives in a half-glass barn and her work has most recently appeared in Otoliths, The Opiate, and Ghost City Press, among others. She has pieces forthcoming with Wide Eyes Publishing and Nine Muses Poetry and she teaches writing at Rutgers University. Janna is the editor of Lamplit Underground and her debut novel will be published through Quill Press in 2020.