Oakland, CA–October 10, 2016
A Mills College alumna has landed her first published short story in TheBest American Short Stories 2016, published this month and edited by Pulitzer Prize winning author Junot Díaz.
“The Letician Age,” by Yalitza Ferreras, ’07, first appeared in the Colorado Review in 2015 and was noticed by Díaz as worthy of inclusion in the ‘Best American’ book.
Mills English Professor Kim Magowan, who taught Ferreras at Mills and who has kept in touch with her over the years, said being in the 'Best American’ anthology is the literary equivalent of winning an Oscar for a short story.
Ferreras credits Mills and Magowan for inspiring her to do great things.
“Mills really made this possible for me,” Ferreras said. “When I got to Mills I wasn’t a writer, but it’s where I became a writer.”
Ferreras entered Mills as a 34-year-old resumer on scholarship and graduated in three years with a double major in English and Political Legal and Economic Analysis. She went on to earn a master of fine arts degree in creative writing from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and now lives in San Francisco.
Magowan remembers Ferreras clearly, and the two have kept in touch.
“Yalitza was extremely talented—a dynamic, vivid, thoughtful writer,” Magowan said. “I witness her accomplishments with great pride but no real surprise. Her story in the current Best American is remarkable—complicated, sophisticated, dazzling.”
The story, Ferreras said, is part autobiography but mostly fictional. She said as a child she often watched PBS documentaries on volcanoes, which sparked an interest in geology. The interest became an obsession as she was shuffled back and forth between the Dominican Republic and the US, not learning to speak English until she was 8 years old.
“When I watched those documentaries about volcanoes there was so much power, but I felt powerless as a child,” she noted. “The character in the story wants to become a famous geologist. She starts on a quest to this dream, but her obsession gets her in trouble.”