Barb Johnson worked as a carpenter in New Orleans for more than twenty years before receiving her MFA from the University of New Orleans in 2008. She won Glimmer Train’s Short Story Award for New Writers and Washington Square’s fiction competition. Her fiction has also appeared in such magazines as The Greensboro Review, 52 Stories, Yemmassee, Guernica, and Oxford American. Her nonfiction can be found in a number of anthologies, including Don’t Quit Your Day Job: Acclaimed Authors and the Jobs They Quit and The Booklover’s Guide to New Orleans.
Her debut collection of short stories, More of This World or Maybe Another (HarperPerennial, 2009) was an IndieNext pick, a Discover Great New Writers selection, and earned the second place prize at the Barnes & Noble Discover Awards. The book also won the 2011 American Library Association’s Barbara Gittings Literature Award.
Johnson has received grants from The Astraea Foundation and The Deming Fund, as well as winning the Gift of Freedom Award, a $50,000 grant from A Room of Her Own Foundation.
She currently teaches fiction writing in the MFA program at the University of New Orleans and is the fiction editor at Bayou Magazine.
Praise for More of This World or Maybe Another:
"Precise and gorgeous language...A wonderful sense of humor..Pathos made over into something much more effective--a vision of all these people just doing the best they can. These are stunning stories...the kind that reveal, enlarge, and make living seem worth the trouble." (Dorothy Allison, author of Bastard Out of Carolina )
"What a pitch-perfect, utterly original, dazzlingly flexible narrative voice Barb Johnson has. Her collection of gritty, sad, funny stories from the Gulf Coast, More of This World or Maybe Another, is a truly exciting debut." (Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain and Severance.)
"Johnson's stories hit hard, but her writing isn't raw. In Johnson's work, an empty oil tank can echo with romantic tension, and a man who ignorantly leaves his baby to overheat in his truck can still be forgiven. Johnson's characters confront violence and tragedy, often of their own making, but they still reach the reader's sympathies." -Cleveland Plain Dealer
"Johnson is pitch-perfect in her spare yet lyrical descriptions, especially those of male-female interactions, how going to war changes soldiers, and how love can be damaged or destroyed, as Delia describes her partner Maggie's affair as 'a tear in my soul that just won't heal.' An insightful literary gem." (Booklist )
"In this book, the music is earned by muscular language, empathy and emotional courage. The writing alone is a rare, sweet joy. Like a drop of water from Delia's leaky faucet, each story in this brilliant collection breaks open in a fit of shine." --LambdaLiterary.org
The stories in More of This World or Maybe Another are things of beauty...a rich, insightful collection.-Denver Post
Nonfiction: The Southern Review
Fiction: Monday Nights: Stories from the Creative Writing Workshop at the University of New Orleans
The Craft of Fiction