Tayari Jones Recommends

“I know it seems like a contradiction in terms for a book to be an underappreciated award winner, but that is exactly the case for Break Any Woman Down by Dana Johnson,” Jones says. “This gorgeous short collection gives Dana Johnson the distinction of being the first African American woman to win the Flannery O’Connor Prize. (In 2001, can you believe it took so long?) The dozen or so stories in this collection show Johnson’s incredible range– the characters span from a twelve year old trying to sort out what it means to be the only black kid in her suburban school to a Los Angeles stripper struggling to convince her porn-star boyfriend that she is a good person. Dana Johnson gives us wit, social commentary, and a lot of heart. I love these stories, every single one of them.”

Tayari Jones is the author of Leaving Atlanta, winner of the 2003 Hurston Wright Award. Her new novel, The Untelling will be published in April.