Natashia Deón is the author of the critically-acclaimed novel, Grace (Counterpoint Press)—which was awarded the 2017 First Novel Prize by the American Library Association’s Black Caucus (BCALA). The novel was named a Kirkus Review Best Book of 2016, a New York Times Top Book 2016, a Book Riot Favorite Book of 2016, The Root Best Book of 2016, and Entropy Magazine Best Book of 2016. Author Caroline Leavitt describes Grace as “exploring a teeming, post-Civil War world where the emancipation of slaves can be anything but freedom.”, and the Kirkus starred review praised it thus: “[T]his is a brave story, necessary and poignant; it is a story that demands to be heard. This is the violent, terrifying world of the antebellum South, where African-American women were prey and their babies sold like livestock. This is the story of mothers and daughters—of violence, absence, love, and legacies.” In the novel, Naomi, the narrator — the specter of a dead slave — watches over her child as she grows amid the turmoil surrounding the Civil War. At one point, Naomi’s ghostly presence is felt in the land of the living, where a character says to the wraith, “There’s no justice. Only grace.” (LA Times).
A UCLA creative writing professor, mother of two, Deón is creator of two popular L.A.-based reading series: Dirty Laundry Lit, a non-profit that focuses on introducing people to literature, and The Table. In 2017, she was a US Delegate to Armenia as part of the U.S. Embassy’s reconciliation project between Turkey and Armenia, in partnership with the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program.
A practicing attorney and law professor, Deón speaks to and for an abolition of the prison industrial complex—what she terms warehouses of people—through the reduction of prisons and penalties for crime. She is for rehabilitation — “real rehabilitation” — especially for those serving life sentences or have been sentenced to death. Her primary focus is drug offense sentencing reduction and rights restoration. Deón says, “My work is not primarily legislative or policy driven. My function as a lawyer is boots on the ground.” She birthed a 501c3 non-profit called REDEEMED the focus of which is to create a hub of services and relief for those who have been incarcerated or have been convicted of crimes.
In 2018, Deón created the Drunk Girls Bible Study podcast, promoted as “A real talk Christian podcast about the Word. (And we’ll try not to say bad words).”
Deón is the recipient of a PEN Center USA Emerging Voices Fellowship, and has been awarded fellowships and residencies at Yale, Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, Prague’s Creative Writing Program, Dickinson House in Belgium, and the Virginia Center for Creative Arts. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of California, Riverside-Palm Desert. Her writing has appeared in American Short Fiction, Buzzfeed, LA Review of Books, The Rumpus, The Feminist Wire, Asian American Lit Review, Rattling Wall and other places.
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