Meet a Grubbie: Jéssica Oliveira

GrubStreet runs on coffee, printer ink, and community. This series features just some of the Grubbies who make our community strong. Meet our 2018 Emerging Writer Fellowship recipient Jéssica Oliveira. The Fellowship aims to develop new, exciting voices by providing one writer per year tuition-free access to Grub classes and Muse & the Marketplace conferences.  


What author, living or dead, would you most like to have dinner with and why?

I want to say Jhumpa Lahiri because “A Temporary Matter” is the first piece of writing to make me feel so seen and affirmed that it brought me to ugly, hiccupping tears. She writes powerfully on the unavoidable nature of grief and loss, and I’m a bit obsessed with tragic human messiness . . . Admittedly, that doesn’t sound like very lively dinner conversation. So, instead, I’m going to choose Gabby Rivera, the author of the YA novel Juliet Takes a Breath and writer of Marvel’s first Latina lesbian character, America Chavez. Gabby writes diverse queer youth extremely well, and I picture a fun evening full of Latin music, food and drink, and infinite chatter about QTPOC life and comic books.


What are you working on right now?

I’m working on a collection of short stories focused on the experiences of Latinx immigrants of color. I’m specifically interested in telling stories about Brazilian Mormons living in Boston, who put roots down here in search of the nebulous American Dream only to endlessly wrestle with an absent sense of belonging. One of the stories in this project follows Luana, the high-achieving youngest child of working-class Brazilian immigrants. Luana and her family are deeply involved in their religious community, and so, unsurprisingly, they begin to unravel after the eldest child, Maia, comes out as a lesbian. 

I should add that I was raised within the community of Portuguese-speaking Mormons in Cambridge, MA, so I feel I am in a unique position to share the narratives that are not always thought of, and how this particular population intersects (and often clashes) with a modernized and liberal understanding of gender, race, class, and sexuality.


What are you reading?

Go Home! an anthology edited by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan, and Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott.


When do you feel most like a writer?

When readers engage with me about my work—whether at workshop, over drinks, or online—and when I get a new idea for a story, usually in a flash of a scene or character that I find intriguing.


Most interesting hobby?

I’m teaching myself to read tarot cards, and I really enjoy learning about how the specific positioning of the planets on my birth chart may affect my personality or daily circumstances. My go-to website for all things magic is, and the writers publish weekly horoscopes and tips for absorbing the healing properties of crystals, herbs, and oils using the lunar calendar.


Do you have a favorite local independent bookstore? Where and why?

It’s not exactly local, but Book Bar in Portsmouth, New Hampshire comes to mind. Portsmouth is a quaint getaway an hour north of Boston. I head there when I’m in a writing funk, or when I’m craving a burger from Lexie’s Diner. The bookstore resembles Trident Café on Tremont in the sense that it serves food, coffee, tea, and alcohol, but is much quieter.


A huge congratulations to Jéssica!


Jéssica is a Brazilian-born writer and medical interpreter who immigrated to the Greater Boston area with her family in 1999. She received her B.A. in International Studies with an emphasis in Political Science and a minor in Spanish from Brigham Young University-Idaho in 2012. After graduating, Jéssica traveled to New Delhi, India for an internship with Vidya, an organization focused on improving female literacy rates. Jéssica then returned to Massachusetts as a Teach For America corps member in 2013, teaching fifth-grade humanities at her alma mater, the Prospect Hill Academy Charter School. She took a break from her lifestyle blog, Mineira Abroad, to work on her first collection of short stories, and is excited to join GrubStreet as a 2018 Emerging Writer Fellow. Jéssica is a shameless foodie who enjoys befriending bartenders, learning about astrology, and reading tarot cards in her spare time.


Click here to find out more about the GrubStreet Emerging Writer Fellowship.

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