October 31, 2019
In her new novel Pigs (Red Hen Press, 2019), Johanna Stoberock has written a lyrical fable about an island that receives all the world’s garbage. That garbage, both physical and psychological in the forms of dreams and memories, is consumed by six enormous, voracious pigs. Four filthy, starving children wearing rags and living in squalor are responsible for sorting the trash, feeding the pigs and taking care of each other, while the island’s adults indulge in fantasies, gorge themselves, and live in the comfort of a huge mansion. Although this isn’t the first time that pigs are depicted in literature, it is probably the first time their presence forces readers to consider how much trash we create, how difficult it is to dispose of it, and how we are going to cope with a world in which recycling is too expensive, refugees are treated as disposable, and the earth is facing the crisis of climate change.
Originally from New York, Johanna Stoberock completed her undergrad education at Wesleyan, earned an MFA in Fiction at the University of Washington, and lived in NYC until moving with her family to Walla Walla in 2005. Author of the novel City of Ghosts, she has received many honors, and in 2016 was named runner-up for the Italo Calvino Prize for Fiction. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Best of the Net anthology, and Catamaran, among others. When she is not writing, Stoberock teaches academic writing, is an avid duplicate bridge player and loves watching large birds like herons while out walking in her area of rural Eastern Washington. She also loves owls, which can be spotted in her neighborhood only in winter.