Meet a Grubbie: Joanna Kim

GrubStreet runs on coffee, printer ink, and community. This series features just some of the Grubbies who make our community strong. Meet Joanna Kim, the first-ever recipient of the Anita Shreve Emerging Writer Fellowship. 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?

Probably Flannery O’Connor! She masterfully addresses the human condition in her pieces, and she owned a farm of peacocks. How do you raise peacocks on a writer’s income?


What are you reading?

Right now, I’m reading Jesus’ Son by Denis Johnson. My writing mentor introduced me to his incredible short story “Emergency” last fall, and I’m finally getting around to reading the full collection.


What is the toughest criticism to give or receive on writing?

As someone who learned English as a second language and only used it in school, I’m always examining my vocabulary and second-guessing my grammar when I speak or write. I feel compelled to work harder by most criticism I receive, but I have a hard time swallowing suggestions related to my word choices or sentence structures because they remind me how much I fear sounding too “foreign” or international.


When do you feel most like a writer?

I think when I’m able to write the truest things I know in the simplest way possible.


Favorite drink?

Black milk tea, which I’m usually too lactose-sensitive for.


Where is the strangest place you’ve ever been?

Last summer, I visited a friend in Shanghai, and she took me to the Shanghai Marriage Market at People’s Park. Basically, parents of unmarried adults gather at this park every weekend to find spouses for their children by setting up umbrellas with their personal information attached to them. Things like age, height, income, education, etc. It was crazy watching parents swap information and realizing that their children probably had no idea they were doing this.


A huge congratulations to Joanna!


Joanna is a senior studying English Literature at Wellesley College. Having lived the first half of her childhood in the United States and the second half in South Korea, she is always stuck between two worlds and prefers to find her home in her books. Besides writing, she loves watching musicals, playing volleyball, and staying in bed.


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

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