Break Any Woman Down by Dana Johnson
(Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction)

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In Break Any Woman Down, Dana Johnson explores race, identity, and alienation with unflinching honesty and vibrant language. Hip and seductive, her stories often feature women discovering their identities through sexual and emotional intimacy with the men in their lives.

In the title story, La Donna is a black stripper whose white boyfriend, an actor in adult movies, insists that she stop stripping. In "Melvin in the Sixth Grade," eleven-year-old Avery has a crush on a white boy from Oklahoma who, like Avery, is an outsider in their suburban Los Angeles school. "Markers" is as much about a woman's relationship with her mother as it is about the dissolution of her relationship with an older Italian man.

Dana Johnson has an intuitive sense of character and a gift for creating authentic voices. She effortlessly captures the rhythmic vernaculars of Los Angeles, the American South, and various immigrant communities as she brings to life the sometimes heavyhearted, but always persevering, souls who live there.


About Dana Johnson

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Dana Johnson is an associate professor of English in the Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences at the University of Southern California. She is the author of Elsewhere, California: A Novel.
Published September 14, 2001 by University of Georgia Press. 168 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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to the suburbs, where she develops a crush on class maverick Melvin Bukeford, himself a recent transplant from Oklahoma, “sporting a crew cut in 1981 when everyone else had long scraggly hair like the guys in Judas Priest or Journey.” As the only black girl in the class, Avery forges a bond with ...

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Publishers Weekly

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The ever-shifting tiers of class, race and gender are probed elsewhere as well: in the title story, La Donna is a black stripper whose white boyfriend—a struggling actor in adult films—wants her to quit;

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