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Cover Image - Kris Graves

Short Story Finalist 

15th Annual Indie Excellence Awards

The characters in Julia MacDonnell’s first collection, The Topography of Hidden Stories, grapple with doubt and disquiet in their search for love and connection, for their own place in the world.  These stories create a shining tapestry of women’s lives in the late 20th and the early 21st centuries.  Several feature women trapped in a pious patriarchy that has yet to loosen its control of women’s lives, especially their creative power and fertility.  However difficult their situations, these characters confront experience with sharp eyes, ironic wit, and a potent sense  of their own historical matrix.  Through prose that glistening with imagery and figurative language, they express a progressive consciousness and a honed feminist edge.  


With vivid detail and exact cultural references... these stories take us to a moment and keep us wholly there… The collection centers on female protagonists who are forced to break free at an early age from their New England Irish Catholic families. The stories in this collection … linger in the subconscious.  They are stories “that stop but [do] not end.” 

— Nathan Alling Long, author of The Origin of Doubt, Lambda Award finalist

“MacDonnell’s writing is frequently elegant, full of vivid metaphors ... and descriptive language. The plots are both familiar and unpredictable, drawing readers in while challenging their preconceptions. Fans of Andre Dubus III and Jennifer Haigh will find much to appreciate in MacDonnell’s exploration of a narrow slice of the American experience. A strong collection of stories connected by deep Irish American roots.”

Kirkus Reviews

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IndieReader Approved - read the review

Julia’s website

About the Author

Julia MacDonnell, an award-winning journalist and novelist, is not now, nor she has ever been, a New York Times bestselling author.  She writes much too slowly for that.  Like Philip Roth’s infamous doppelganger Nathan Zuckerman in The Ghostwriter, MacDonnell can spend days ‘turning around’ a single sentence; a week or more on a paragraph.  So, instead of writing books she hopes will sell a million copies, she writes about the things that matter most to her, driven by the conviction that they might also matter to her readers. She often thinks of Kafka’s declaration that stories should ‘wake us up…affect us like a disaster…grieve us.’ But MacDonnell has no wish to hurt her readers.  Rather, with her quirky vision and lyrical prose, she wants them to be enlightened and entertained – and to, perhaps, have something to take with them when the story’s over. 

Author photo by Morgan Triska