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Joy Williams

Joy Williams is a short-story writer and novelist. Often compared to Flannery O’Connor, her stories are noted for being darkly comic and tragic in tone. “She can render the interior slide from grief to strange cravings to jokey observations to superstitious fears, all in the span of a single paragraph, or even a sentence,” novelist and short-story writer Karen Russell has said of Williams.

“What a story is, is devious,” Williams stated in a 2014 Paris Review interview. “It pretends transparency, forthrightness. It engages with ordinary people, ordinary matters, recognizable stuff. But this is all a masquerade. What good stories deal with is the horror and incomprehensibility of time, the dark encroachment of old catastrophes.”

Williams is the author of four short-story collections and four novels. The compressed, almost meditative sections of her most recent collection, 99 Stories of God, were written partially as an homage to Thomas Bernhard’s The Voice Imitator: 104 Stories. Her first novel, State of Grace, was nominated for a National Book Award, and her most recent, The Quick and the Dead, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. A 2001 essay collection, Ill Nature: Rants and Reflections on Humanity and Other Animals, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. A 30th anniversary reprint of The Changeling was issued in 2008 with an introduction by the novelist Rick Moody. Williams was the 1999 recipient of the Rea Award for the Short Story.

Selected Bibliography

The Visiting Privilege: New & Collected Stories (2015)
99 Stories of God (2013)
Honored Guest (2004)
The Florida Keys: A History & Guide (2003)
The Quick and the Dead (2000)
Escapes (1990)
Breaking and Entering (1988)
Taking Care (1982)

Online Resources

Joy Williams ‘Why I Write’ from Tin House
Williams interviewed in the Paris Review
Karen Russell on Williams