Long listed for the PEN/DIAMONSTEIN-SPIELVOGEL AWARD FOR THE ART OF THE ESSAY
Piper J. Daniels is the award-winning author of Ladies Lazarus (Tarpaulin Sky Press, 2018). A Michigan native and queer intersectional feminist, Daniels holds a BA from Columbia College Chicago and an MFA from University of Washington and serves as a passionate advocate on issues of mental health, sexual assault, and body positivity. Her debut essay collection was described by Publisher’s Weekly as "beautifully written...Despite the dark content, Daniels astutely focuses on the ways women “resurrect” themselves from social, physical, and mental obstructions, as she emerges as an empowering and noteworthy voice.” Her work appears in or is forthcoming from Hotel Amerika, The Rumpus, Tarpaulin Sky, Longreads, Enclave, The Dirty Spoon, The Monarch Review, and elsewhere. She lives in the American Southwest with her incredible partner, a coven of mischievous puppies, and a very stylish cat.
In this beautifully written collection of 11 lyric essays, debut author Daniels challenges popular narratives about suicidal ideation, sexual assault, mental illness, and female bodies. Told mostly in vignettes, the book merges disparate themes so that one informs the other. Daniels accomplishes this thematic blending especially well when considering occult worship and rape in “Asking for It,” puberty and purity in “Holy Sacrament,” and dolls and dieting in “The Return of Hunger.” Many of the essays converse with other authors and primary texts—including suicide notes in the insightful “Sirens” and taped murder confessions in the chilling “The Twist.” In “The Sylvia Plath Effect,” Daniels forcefully confronts lingering questions on the role of depression—and gender—in Plath’s literary legacy. Despite the dark content, Daniels astutely focuses on the ways women “resurrect” themselves from social, physical, and mental obstructions, as she emerges as an empowering and noteworthy voice.
“A set of personal essays so well written you will feel, "It is so painful I can't read another word", and at the same time not be able to put it down. More unsavory life experiences than should ever happen to a young woman and every reader will be be able to relate to at least one of them. Daniels talks about her self-image issues, her battle with mental illness and depression and takes us to the edge of her own temptations toward suicide. Scary and compelling.”
“Piper J. Daniels writes, ‘Sometimes the only thing you can do with a feeling is lean into it.’ This is the nervy strategy of her first book, Ladies Lazarus, in which she not only explores her own battle with mental illness and suicidal ideation but also enters into a rich conversation with many other women writers. The result is an extremely intelligent, impressively understated, and achingly powerful work.”
“Piper J. Daniels' Ladies Lazarus is a siren song from planet woman, a love letter from the body, a resistance narrative against the dark.”
“Piper J. Daniels is going to rip the essay world apart. She's the kind of writer who buries herself, lives among the dead, then comes to life again to levitate in the stormy air. She's a true talent. Ladies Lazarus is the best debut I've read in a long time. Certainly a book that I want to love forever and never let go of. Piper J. Daniels has resurrected the personal essay and what it is and what it can do.”
“(O)ne of the most unnerving yet masterfully written books!”