Skip to content

Story: ‘Virginia Is Not Your Home,’ by Jocelyn Nicole Johnson

Hello friends,

This week on Ursa Short Fiction, Deesha Philyaw and Dawnie Walton introduce their first story pick for Season Two, Jocelyn Nicole Johnson’s “Virginia Is Not Your Home,” from her debut collection, My Monticello, published in 2021 by Henry Holt and Co.

“Virginia Is Not Your Home” follows the life of a woman who is attempting to outrun her namesake, and the story conjures questions of origin, of becoming, and of freedom. There is emphasis on movement and escape, on our names as our homes, and on understanding what it is we leave behind when we go. It interrogates the ways we forget and the ways we remember.

Today’s story is performed by January LaVoy, and it’s excerpted from the My Monticello audiobook, produced by our friends at Macmillan Audio. Our thanks to them for sharing this story with Ursa listeners.

Listen, then come back next week for our conversation with Jocelyn Nicole Johnson.

Reading List:

About the Author

Jocelyn Nicole Johnson is the author of My Monticello, a fiction debut that was called “a masterly feat” by the New York Times, and winner of the Library of Virginia Fiction Award, the Weatherford Award, the Balcones Fiction Prize, and the Lillian Smith Award, as well as a finalist for the Kirkus Fiction Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Leonard Award, the LA Times Debut Seidenbaum Prize, and long-listed for a Pen/Faulkner Fiction Award and the Story Prize. Johnson has been a fellow at TinHouse, Hedgebrook, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Her writing has appeared in Guernica, The Guardian, Kweli Journal, Joyland, Lit Hub, and elsewhere. Her short story “Control Negro” was anthologized in The Best American Short Stories, guest edited by Roxane Gay and read live by LeVar Burton. A veteran public school art teacher, Johnson lives and writes in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Read more from Deesha Philyaw and Dawnie Walton: 


Episode editor: Kelly Araja

Associate producer: Marina Leigh

Episode producer: Mark Armstrong

Audio story produced by Macmillan Audio and performed by January LaVoy.

Ursa Short Fiction is supported by our listeners. Share this podcast with a friend—or become a Member to help fund production:

Get the Ursa Newsletter:

Sign up for our free email with updates on the Ursa Short Fiction podcast and news about our favorite writers and short stories: