Photo: Gregg Segal

dana johnson

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DANA JOHNSON is the author of the acclaimed short story collection In the Not Quite Dark. She is also the author of Break Any Woman Down, winner of the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, and of the novel Elsewhere, California. Both books were nominees for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. Her work has appeared in Ploughshares, Zyzzyva, The Paris Review, Callaloo, and The Iowa Review, among others, and was anthologized in On Girlhood: 15 Stories from the Well-Read Black Girl Library, Watchlist: 32 Stories by Persons of Interest, Shaking the Tree: A Collection of New Fiction and Memoir by Black Women, and California Uncovered: Stories for the 21st Century. Recent work includes Trailblazer: Delilah Beasley’s California, a fictional account of the life of historian and newspaper columnist Delilah Beasley. Collaborations include WE, with Los Angeles artist Susan Silton, whose etchings accompany Dana’s short story, “We See It Differently, You and I”, and UC Irvine’s dance theater production of The Story of Biddy Mason, produced by Annie Loui, artistic director of Counter-Balance Theater.

Born and raised in and around Los Angeles, she is a professor of English at the University of Southern California.


Dana will be in attendance for the December 4th performance of The Story of Biddy Mason, at UC Irvine’s Experimental Media Performance Lab (xMPL), a multimedia event created in collaboration with Annie Loui, adapted from The Story of Biddy Mason from Dana’s collection In The Not Quite Dark. Set in 1850 Los Angeles, the performance presents the story of a former Mississippi slave and midwife who walks to California behind a wagon train and becomes a healing force in the wild west. The author and other creators will discuss the event in a Q&A immediately following the performance.