Waterston – Monona Wali

Waterston Desert Writing Prize

Monona Wali – 2022 Finalist

Project Title: Come with Us: Voices of the Mojave Desert

Monona Wali’s submission,Come With Us: Voices of the Mojave Desert” will center listening and seeing as powerful acts of attention that engage all our senses to experience the multiplicity of the Mojave’s voices. As we confront the upheaval brought on by climate change and biodiversity loss, we are challenged to use the power of grief to seek renewal in the natural world. This book proposal calls the reader to do just that—to travel through desert time in a woven basket of fact and tales, learning the stories of Aha Mocave, the people who live along the water, ingress with a rattlesnake into its winter den, witness the majestic formations of gneiss and metamorphic rock eons ago, and hang out with a bevy of Gambel’s quail. A biography of the Mojave desert, illuminating her long history of transformation, told through her own voices, can feed our hunger and longing for connection to her complex and beautiful landscape.

Monona Wali is an award-winning novelist, short story writer and filmmaker. Her debut novel, My Blue Skin Lover, won the 2015 Independent Book Publishers Gold award for multicultural fiction. Many of her stories and essays have been published in various literary journals. Prior to writing fiction, she was a filmmaker. Her film Grey Area is included in the LA Rebellion, curated by the UCLA Film and Television Archives to highlight groundbreaking work done by BIPOC filmmakers in the 70’s and 80’s.

Born in Benares, India, she lives in Los Angeles where she teaches writing and literature at Santa Monica College.