Now playing on Otherppla conversation with Emily Nemens. Her debut novel, The Cactus League, is available from Farrar, Straus, & Giroux.

 

In 2018, Nemens became the seventh editor of The Paris Review, the nation’s preeminent literary quarterly. Since her arrival, the magazine has seen record-high circulation, published two anthologies, produced a second season of its acclaimed podcast, and won the 2020 National Magazine Award for Fiction. Previously, she coedited The Southern Review, a storied literary quarterly published at Louisiana State University. Stories published during her tenure at The Southern Review were selected for the Pushcart Prize anthology, Best American Short Stories, the O. Henry Prize anthology, and the inaugural edition of PEN America Best Debut Fiction.

Nemens grew up in Seattle and received her bachelor’s degree from Brown University, where she studied art history and studio art. She completed an MFA degree in fiction at Louisiana State University. As an illustrator, she’s collaborated with Harvey Pekar, published her work in The New Yorker, and her watercolor portraits of every woman in congress were featured across the web and on national TV. Her short stories have appeared in Blackbird (Tarumoto Prize winner), Esquiren+1The Iowa ReviewHobart, and The Gettysburg Review. She lives in New York and remains a Mariners fan.

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Travis-Kurowski-author-photoSo literary magazines, eh? What gives?

Well I’ve been reading literary magazines since college at Southern Oregon, where I used to troll the library between classes. My creative writing teacher, Vincent Craig Wright, had mentioned the names of a few lit mags in class one day—Ploughshares, Missouri Review, Mid-American Review—so I was curious to see what these things were. And I liked what I found. (Work from Jim Shepard and Yiyun Li memorably drew me in, as did the famous Paris Review interviews. Nowhere else in Oregon had I been given direct access to maps of the imagination.) Soon I began reading some of them kind of regularly. The Paris Review. Story Quarterly. New York Quarterly.