What are you reading on the subway or in the waiting room today?
I am currently reading Lan Samantha Chang‘s Hunger, and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made so far this year. It’s a short story collection with a novella recommended to me by my friend Sara Finnerty Turgeon. The novella is nothing short of delectable: precise, full-bodied, emotive language. As soon as I’m done, I’m reaching for Kelly Links‘s Magic for Beginners.
What book popped for you in 2015?
I really loved Nina Revoyr’s Lost Canyon. It’s not a book that I would ordinarily pick up, but I’m glad that I had the opportunity to discover, read and publicize Nina’s work. She’s interested in my favorite literary themes: community, sexuality, race, environment. I found Lost Canyon to be a beautiful melange of my deepest preoccupations.
Whose words do you return to regularly?
I read Toni Morrison’s Sula every September just before my birthday and Edwidge Danticat’s Create Dangerously at the start of each new year. I am always returning to Gwendolyn Brooks’s Maud Martha for comfort and support. Jesmyn Ward’s Salvage the Bones is a book I will read for the rest of my life. The language is lush and decadent. Jesmyn is a poet of the highest order. Whenever I need to feel smart or satisfied or strong, I read Zora Neale Hurston’s oft forgotten short story, “Sweat.” I wish I had more time to reread Gayl Jones. I’m going to find the time.
Is there an author you can’t wait to read next?
As a publicist, I will fangirl over my clients: Desiree Cooper’s Know the Mother is forthcoming this March. It’s a collection of flash fiction focused on women of varying ages and races who are trying to make the best of their domestic circumstances. It’s clever in its brevity. It’s the perfect book to throw in your handbag because as soon as you are intimate with a story, it’s over. It’s short and crisp.
Cole Lavalais‘s Summer of the Cicadas is sure to be a stunner for readers. She’s handling metal health, HBCUs, first love, hauntings. It’s a beautiful and violent story about a troubled young woman out in the world for the first time by herself trying to navigate love and sex and what’s tormenting her mind. She can’t get around her own mind. Every woman has been that young girl trying to steady herself on a sinking ship. It’s a gorgeous story.
In terms of other writers, I am so, so very excited for poetry in 2016! New books from Aracelis Girmay and francine j. harris are enough to stop me in my tracks. I want to hold those books very soon. As soon as I heard they had new work coming out, I threw my hands up in thanks.
What are you working on now? What can VIDA fans look forward to from you next?
All of my work is Jack Jones Literary Arts. As a book publicist, it’s important to me to talk about little, mighty books. There are so many good books published every year, and we need to broaden the conversation to make room for books from small houses and emerging talents. I’m always happy when my favorite writers have new work, but I am most intrigued when I come across a new, brilliant voice. I want to read the books I wouldn’t have otherwise read, and I want other people to know about those books, too. Jack Jones has a lot of fun surprises in store for 2016, and I appreciate all of the readers who are on this journey with me and the writers I work with.
KIMA JONES has received fellowships from PEN Center USA Emerging Voices, Kimbilio Fiction, Yaddo and The MacDowell Colony, as the 2014-2015 Gerald Freund Fellow. She has been published at Guernica, NPR, PANK, Scratch Magazine and The Rumpus among others. She is an MFA candidate in fiction and Rodney Jack Scholar in the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. Kima is the founder of Jack Jones Literary Arts, a book publicity company.