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Johanna Stoberock Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

City of Ghosts (2003)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Pigs (2019)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Johanna Stoberock is a literary fiction author from Walla Walla, Washington best known for her novels “Pigs” and “City of Ghosts.” Her work has been featured in the Best of the Net Anthology, Lit Hub, and the Chicago Review of Books among many other places. He was the winner of the Artist Trust GAP award in 2013, a Jack Straw Fellowship in 2012, and made the shortlist of the Italo Calvino Prize for Fiction in 2016. Johanna has also been awarded residencies at the Millay Colony, the Vermont Studio Center, and the Corporation of Yaddo. Stoberock went to Wesleyan University and then on to the MFA program at the University of Washington. After graduating from college, she went on to work in New York’s publishing and magazine industry before she moved to Walla Walla in Washington. Even though the stories she tells happen in a world of their own, she often sets her essays in Eastern Washington landscapes. She currently teaches composition alongside several other creative programs to freshmen at Whitman College. In addition to her work as a teacher and author, she has also worked for the likes of Grove Atlantic, Scribner, and William Morrow. She has also been research editor for several publications including Rolling Stone and Men’s Journal.

Stoberock has always been writing something or other and asserts that it is something she always wanted to do ever since she was young. She loved storytelling as a child and throughout her teenage years, she kept a journal where she wrote down the many ideas for the stories she kept in her head. She was a huge reader and would often be found with a journal where she would write down the many ideas for the stories she had percolating in her mind. But it was not until she graduated from college and found a job at a New York publishing company as an editorial assistant that she once again dipped her toes into fiction writing. Just like many college graduates, she felt that she lacked a sense of meaning and this made her a little depressed. During this time, some of her friends had come together and started a writing group that she joined. They used to write poems and short stories as they encouraged each other to get out of their comfort zones with their writing. As soon as she got into the writing of prose, everything clicked and she realized that she needed to focus on that form of writing.

Johanna Stoberock’s skill and passion were finally acknowledged as she was the winner of the Gar Lasalle Storyteller Award and also the Artist Trust in 2019. By winning the award she got $10,000 in an unrestricted grant that is typically awarded to authors whose stories are very engaging. She has said that it was the award that kept her busy at the discipline of writing. Johanna believes that she first learned how to write fiction after she saw a piece of work that a friend had written about his sister. In the piece, the sister is walking down the road and turns a corner to become unrecognizable. Stoberock believes that her writing also has these abrupt and sudden turns of plot and characters. She began writing by having something that could be seen in the real world. She will then take a tangent by taking it off the real world and into a fictional world where anything is possible. When it comes to the inspiration for her novels, she has said that much of it is drawn from her environment. Many of the stories come to her while she is having discussions with her students, watching TV, or reading.

“Pigs” by Johanna Stoberock asserts that no matter how far one goes, it is almost impossible to escape from oneself. This is what Isabel the lead protagonist of the novel discovered when she ends up married to her best friend’s lover in Nepal. Isabel has been friends with Anna ever since she was seven years old and ever since their first meeting, Ann took the lead and Isabel followed. More than two decades later, they were living as roommates in the Big Apple, where Isabel is the manager of an import store and Anna is a lawyer. At the start of the novel, Anna is setting off on a trip around the world but before leaving she falls in love with a guide named Danny who has a tour company in Nepal and is in the Big Apple for business. They say their goodbyes but agree to meet in Nepal but as soon as she leaves, Danny is having an affair with Isabel and a few weeks later they are man and wife. They move to Nepal where they settle in an old palace, which is where Danny has been living all the years he has been in the country. Danny seems to be in love with his new flame but Isabel now has all the time to start wondering if this is what she wants. Moreover, she thinks about what she has done to her relationship with Anna. To make matters worse, she is also dealing with the death of Anna’s brother that had been dating Isabel for years. Things come to a head when Isabel and Anna face off while on a dramatic trek in Nepal.

“City of Ghosts” by Johanna Stoberock is the haunting story of betrayal and dependence among best friends who are fighting for the love of a man. It is a sweeping romantic novel that starts from where the debut novel left off. Isabel Grady had gotten married to her friend Anna’s lover and they had eloped and moved to the harsh mountains of Nepal. They have been living in a ruined palace but her husband has been acting weird and also goes missing for several weeks before making a reappearance. Isabel is finding it hard to adjust and when she learns that Anna is planning to visit in a few months, she feels as if everything is crashing in on her. Her ancient crumbling home and the happenings from her past seem determined to ensure she does not have a future to look forward to. Isabel’s new setting mirrors the passions and tensions of her marriage, the ruins of the corrupt regime, the dense heat of the monsoon and the lonely and soul-crushing life of expatriates are rendered in a lyrical rolling vivid prose that is compelling and never hurried. The novel is a probing and poignant study of loss and love that marks the arrival of an exciting and fresh literary voice.

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