About Debra Monroe
Photo by @Joe M. O'Connell
Debra Monroe is the author of seven books and the editor of one anthology. Her first collection of stories The Source of Trouble was “a fierce debut” (Kirkus Reviews) that won the Flannery O’Connor Award. Her second collection A Wild, Cold State was widely reviewed and described by The Boston Globe as “fine and funky, marbled with warmth and romantic confusion but not a hint of sentimentality.”
The Washington Post described her first novel Newfangled as “rangy, thoughtful, ambitious, and widely, wildly knowledgeable.”
Her next novel Shambles was praised by the Texas Observer for “the heartbreaking particularity of the hellholes, real and imagined, that make this a novel of graceful ease and substance.” Her first memoir On the Outskirts of Normal was published to national acclaim: “Candid about men, mothering, racism, and her own flaws, she shows that it’s possible to create something beautiful out of a tattered past” (People). Her next memoir My Unsentimental Education was lauded as a female picaresque told with “consummate control and aphoristic wit” (Phillip Lopate), “full of wit and humor” (San Francisco Chronicle), a “perceptive, funny-sad” account of its author’s sexual and intellectual awakening (Chicago Tribune).
Her book of essays It Takes a Worried Woman, with its “introspective honesty about love, marriage, parenting, acquaintance rape, hate crimes, the COVID pandemic, and worry itself, its value and its cost” (David Jauss), is at times lyrical, darkly funny, dense with history, an improbable mix of intimacy and intellect. “Even deeply injurious events are integrated by the courage and intelligence of this writer” (Richard Hoffman).
Debra Monroe’s work has long been admired for “prose that shimmers like a jazz solo” (Jonis Agee) and its singular perspective: “Her characters. . .have big hearts and hard edges and purely unique ways of opening themselves up for our inspection” (Antonya Nelson). Her stories and essays have been published in dozens of literary journals. Her books have appeared on Best Ten lists in many venues, including The Barnes & Noble Review, Elle, Vanity Fair, and O, the Oprah Magazine. Her nonfiction has appeared in The New York Times, Longreads, Guernica, The American Scholar, and Salon. She lives in Austin, Texas, and teaches in the MFA Program and Honors College at Texas State University.