Ms. Johnson wrote a fictionalized short story about Ms. Beasley for a new book, “Trailblazer: Delilah Beasley’s California,” published by the L.A. arts organization Clockshop and the Huntington Library…read more


Publishers Weekly (starred review): In the Not Quite Dark

Johnson’s superb short story collection features well-drawn characters, vivid descriptions of Los Angeles, and nuanced reflections on money, race, and family. The stories stand alone, but they share preoccupations, and sometimes settings. In the title story, Dean Wilkerson tries to make his mother see the beauty of his historic downtown apartment building, the Pacific Electric Lofts. She wishes he lived somewhere more private and farther from…read more


Kirkus Review: In the Not Quite Dark

Johnson exposes the deep ruptures between her characters’ relationships to one another, their surroundings, and their pasts. In “Rogues,” J.J., a broke college student, clashes with his older brother, Kenny. Kenny laughs off J.J.’s more idealistic worldview. “Sorry College,” he says after J.J. critiques his use of the n-word as a man of color. Later, Kenny states more bluntly, “Well Obama don’t live in this neighborhood, do he?” This question…read more


Publishers Weekly (starred review): Elsewhere, California

Avery is nine when her family escapes L.A.’s gang violence and moves to the suburbs, becoming the only black people in the neighborhood. Feeling alienated, but impressionable, Avery adjusts by way of Tiger Beat, Shaun Cassidy collages, and a mouthy best friend. At 40, Avery has become a visual artist, her rich and sensual Italian boyfriend clearly instrumental in helping her find the self-acceptance that eluded her for so long. This wildly vivid novel unfolds…read more


Los Angeles Times  Review: Finding Oneself in ‘Elsewhere, California’  June 10, 2012

When hasn’t California been a cure? Either a plan B or C — or the “fix.” Fit within that reinvention story, Los Angeles in particular often figures as the white-hot destination: the place where the greatest transformation might take place. Though that gamble may bestow great dividends, too many discover that the odds more likely suggest the delivery of punishing, irrecoverable loss.  Dana Johnson’s first novel, “Elsewhere, California,” explores the space between… read more


Dana Johnson discusses Elsewhere, California on the KTLA Morning News, June 21, 2012

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Dana Johnson is interviewed on Bibliocracy Radio with Andrew Tonkovich, KPFK 90.7, June 27th, 2012  Listen here


Necessary Fiction Review by Michelle Bailat-Jones, July 9, 2012

“Elsewhere, California” is definitely a book that looks carefully at some of the fundamental tensions between America’s different cultures—African American, white American, Hispanic, immigrant culture. Indeed, one of the novel’s main preoccupations is…read more


Los Angeles Review of Books, May 25, 2015

Read Dana Johnson’s evocative and powerful review of Tracy K. Smith’s memoir “Ordinary Light” in the Los Angeles Review of Books.