Spotlight on “Monarch” by Emily Jon Tobias

by LitStack Editor

“Full of empathy and rendered in searing, visceral prose, Monarch shines brightly.”—Kimberly King-Parsons, author of Black Light


About Monarch

Monarch subverts the reader’s common perceptions about how love can heal, how loss and suffering can transform, and how every character deserves a second chance. America’s city scars, sewers, alleyways, and bars are landscape to their wars, as characters heal and transform under wind turbines and on open roads, in golden cornfields and with the wails of Chicago blues. Heroes in this collection are the marginalized, the sufferers, the down-trodden, the misfits, the wanderers, and the wounded, shaped by grief but not defined by their scars.

Monarch honors each human being’s capacity for change. Characters drive the collection, turning up the dial to raise the volume of voice for unsung heroes who are shades of the sufferers and healers in all. In collection, MONARCH is an exploration of the human condition through a lens of the damaged who learn to love through small acts of kindness, given and received. MONARCH’s characters bear traumas with their bodies, and often, they transgress. They break in, break down, and ultimately, break open.

An inclusive invitation, Monarch is an intimate portrayal of scarred characters on American streets beating the drum of current culture against the fierce rhythm of critical social justice issues. With this at its heart, the collection Includes a reading guide written by the author with prompts intended to inspire discourse between readers, writers, and students making the work of special interest to librarians, teachers, book clubs, and beyond.  

Foreword by Chris Abani, author of The Secret History of Las Vegas.

Source: Publisher
ISBN-13: 9781625570857
Publisher: Black Lawrence Press
Publication date: 05/17/2024

Praise for Monarch

“This remarkable debut collection that traverses many of the parts of America that are unseen, or at least, unseen in this way, and gives us a wealth of material to engage with and themes that make a collection worth biting into – loyalty, betrayal, happiness and deep sorrow, addiction and victory and a reclamation of selves against the nearly impossible grind of modern American life.”–Chris Abani, author of The Secret History of Las Vegas

“Superb, original and thoroughly alive with heartbreak and wonder. Tobias is electrifying.”–Junot Díaz, Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and author of This is How You Lose Her

“Full of empathy and rendered in searing, visceral prose, Monarch shines brightly. In eleven vivid, affecting stories, Tobias turns her careful attention toward the strugglers and strivers among us—the result is heartfelt and immersive.”–Kimberly King-Parsons, author of Black Light

“The stories in Monarch are raw and gritty and always real. Emily Jon Tobias gives voice to the outsiders, the misfits, and the broken. I can’t say enough great things about this debut collection.”–Willy Vlautin, author of Lean on Pete and The Night Always Comes

“Close your eyes and imagine a story collection where every story is a diamond. Monarch is just that. Each story took me and never let go, even after the story had long ended. Written with such grace and elegance, this collection pulses with so much life, so much compassion, even when things seem to be bleak. After you finish this collection, after you read it for a second and third time, you’ll find yourself asking what I asked: “Where is Emily Jon Tobias’s next book?”–Morgan Talty, author of Night of the Living Rez

“Richly rendered in knife-sharp and evocative prose, the stories in Monarch by Emily Jon Tobias are full of wounded hearts. They seek redemption, revenge, liberation, and rescue. What Tobias delivers through them is compassion, laying bare the complexities of a full spectrum of American life. A moving debut.”–Talia L. Kolluri, author of What We Fed to the Manticore

“A haunting, lyrical debut. These stories are unforgettable and wrenching, vital and wise. I’ll be returning to this book again and again. Tobias is an unmistakable talent.”–Chelsea Bieker, author of Godshot and Heartbroke

“The lost, the disillusioned, the mistreated, the desperate – Tobias inhabits all these characters with a singular poetic vision and an eye which is both compassionate and unflinching. Their interior lives and bruised, aching secrets resonated and lingered with me long after I finished reading.”–Cate Kennedy, author of Like a House on Fire

“In these dazzling, kaleidoscopic stories Emily Jon Tobias arranges the jagged shards of life into patterns that shift and catch the light to take your breath away. These are wise, big-hearted stories from a writer of prodigious talent.”–Valerie Laken, author of Dream House and Separate Kingdoms

“Women’s past and present mingle in Tobias’s stories where sentences are loaded with momentum and crafted with astonishing descriptions and surprising beauty. Regrets and disappointments haunt forlorn characters in this collection as they push through the pain in needles and whiskey, in babies that float, in the car on the highway with the windows down–maybe all at the same time, forever fleeing but never able. Monarch is packed with troubles, richly drawn and wrenched from alleys, from mattresses, lest we forget.”–Thea Swanson, author of Mars

About Emily Jon Tobias, Author of Monarch


Emily Jon Tobias is an award-winning writer whose work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, along with other honorable mentions, and has been featured in literary journals such as Santa Clara Review, Talking River Review, The Opiate Magazine, The Ocotillo Review, Typehouse Literary Magazine, Tahoma Literary Review, Big Muddy, and elsewhere. Midwestern-raised, she now lives and writes on the coast of Southern California. She holds an MFA in Writing from Pacific University Oregon.

You can find and follow Emily Jon Tobias on their website, on Instagram, Threads, and X (formerly Twitter).

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