New York Appearances

New York Appearances

I have a couple of upcoming appearances in New York. I’ll be reading at the Cornelia Street Cafe on August 22 and on a panel at the Center for Fiction on December 1. I always love a reason to jump on Amtrak and head south.

Jones’s Story Collection Continues to Win Awards

Jones’s Story Collection Continues to Win Awards

Thank you, Emerson, for this article on the Emerson College homepage today!
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Alden Jones, senior affiliated faculty in the Department of Writing, Literature and Publishing, was awarded the Lascaux Book Prize for her short story collection, Unaccompanied Minors, the third prize the book has won.

“The stories in Unaccompanied Minors are my ‘babies’—the stories I wrote over the course of over almost fifteen years that I consider my personal favorites,” Jones said. “It’s thrilling to win an award that celebrates these stories.”

The Lascaux Book Prize, which comes with $1,000 and a bronze medallion, is awarded by The Lascaux Review, which “provides a showcase for emerging and established writers and artists,” according to its website.

Since its publication two years ago, Unaccompanied Minors has won a New American Fiction Prize and an Independent Publisher Book Award, and was a finalist for the Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction and a Lambda Literary Award.

“The lifecycle of a book is usually very short,” Jones said. “You expect a burst of attention and sales right around the time of the publication date. For Unaccompanied Minors to receive public recognition…two years after its publication is unexpected and exciting.”

Unaccompanied Minors is Jones’s second book. The Blind Masseuse: A Traveler’s Memoir from Costa Rica to Cambodia, published in 2013, won the Independent Publisher Book Award in Travel Essays, an IndieFab Award in Travel Essays, and was named a Publisher’s Weekly Top 10 Travel Book and a Huffington Post Best Book of the Year. It also was a finalist for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay.

Earlier this year, Jones was awarded the Alan L. Stanzler Award for Excellence in Teaching from Emerson College.

Come to Harvard Book Store, March 2

Come to Harvard Book Store, March 2

I’ll be in conversation with Garth Greenwell and Idra Novey tonight at the Harvard Book Store. We’ll be talking about their two brilliant novels, What Belongs to You and Ways to Disappear. We promise to entertain.
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Unaccompanied Minors on Story366

Unaccompanied Minors on Story366
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Heartfelt thanks to Michael Czyzniejewski for posting these thoughts on “Shelter” and Unaccompanied Minors on Story366:

Today’s story, “Shelter,” comes from Jones’ debut collection, Unaccompanied Minors, from New American Press and the incredible duo of Okla Elliott and Dave Bowen…Alden Jones is one of the talented authors published by New American Press, her stories fast-paced, human, and a reminder of why minors are designated as such, in the eyes of the law, but emotionally, too. Jones is able to depict not only the mistakes that result from youth and inexperience, but how these characters arrive at these mistakes. It’s not as easy of an answer as we’d like to imagine. If we all think back to being that age, weren’t we just a bad break, or a bad choice or two, or one time getting caught, away from some serious shit?

Complete review at Story366

Noir at the Bar

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I suppose you could call elements of Unaccompanied Minors “noir.” In any case, the best thing about reading at a noir-themed event was that the audience was prepared for a night of murder, mayhem, and seedy darkness. So I got to read from “Sin Alley,” the Costa Rica house of prostitution story. “Sin Alley” even seemed sweet in the context of the event! I mean, there is crime and bad behavior…but there is also love.

While listening to the other readers, I got to share a table with this fab posse of Emerson creative writing students.IMG_1566
(Did I mention I love my job?)


Four Questions on Farsickness
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Four Questions on Farsickness is an interview series with creative writers for whom place is essential to their work. Each writer answers the same four questions—and featured this week is award-winning travel memoirist and short story author, Alden Jones.

1. Share a little about where you’re from. When you were growing up, what place—real or imagined—most fascinated you, and why?

I grew up in New Jersey, so of course the most fascinating place in the world was Manhattan. But, like most voracious young readers, I traveled via books. I was as fascinated by the Dollangangers’ attic as I was by the plains of Siberia. I was drawn to any setting that wasn’t safe, predictable suburban America. Any place a book could transport me so fully that I would look up from the book and forget, for a second, that it wasn’t my life I was reading about.
Later, because I started studying Spanish at age ten and found it incredibly fun, I wanted to go where I could speak Spanish. I studied abroad in Spain as a high school student, but was always drawn to Central America. So after college and more Spain and more Europe, I found my way to Costa Rica as a WorldTeach volunteer English teacher.

2. What travel has been a particular inspiration to your work?

My first book, The Blind Masseuse: A Traveler’s Memoir from Costa Rica to Cambodia, is an exploration of the ethics of travel and covers fifteen years of my life as a traveler. I didn’t include every trip I took during those fifteen years, but all of the travel I did inspired the book. The Blind Masseuse begins during my year in Costa Rica, follows my travels as a backpacker and then a teacher in Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Cuba, and as a professor on Semester at Sea, mostly in Asia. But I was also much affected by a summer I spent in Paris, my first experience teaching travel writing in Italy, a research trip I took to Brazil, and I had quite a few (mis)adventures as a trip leader in Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. Why didn’t those experiences make it into The Blind Masseuse? I had to kill my darlings and do what made sense for the narrative, but as for the question of inspiration, every moment I spent as an American abroad contributed to the study of ethical travel. Especially the worst moments!
My second book, Unaccompanied Minors, is a collection of stories, two of which are set in Costa Rica. I was very motivated to write stories set in Costa Rica, because during and after my year there I could find so little literature that explored Costa Rican culture. Plenty on birds and beaches, of course, but almost nothing about what life was like for the people who lived in Costa Rica. I felt there was a real gap and I wanted to help fill that gap.

3. Where do you “escape to” to recharge creativity?

Provincetown, any artists’ colony, tropical tourist hotels in the off season. Now that I have three kids under five, nothing says “escape” like three uninterrupted hours in my home office.

4. Where would you most like to travel to next?

The novel I’m writing now is partially set in Cambodia, where I spent two days during my Semester at Sea travels. For some reason Cambodia really hit a chord for me and I’ve been obsessively plotting to return there once my kids are a bit older.
In the more immediate future, I’m excited to return to Cuba, where I spent three summers from 2001-2003. My friend and fellow writer Tim Weed and I are launching the Cuba Writers Program in spring 2016. I haven’t been there in over a decade. Almost every Cuban friend I had has moved to Canada or Spain or the US, so it will be strange and a little sad. But Cuba, as everyone knows, has a tendency towards preservation, so I’m curious to see how it’s changed and how it’s stayed the same, especially with the recent lifting of restrictions on the US side. I’m someone who loves nostalgia. There’s a lot of that in Cuba, for me personally, and in general. Some people travel to see new places and get focused on the next place, and the next, but I love revisiting places that hold memories.