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Janisse Ray’s “The Lonely Ruralist” Wins Pushcart Prize

The Georgia Review is pleased to congratulate Janisse Ray, whose essay “The Lonely Ruralist” has been honored with a Pushcart Prize. The essay, which appeared in our Fall 2019 issue, recounts Ray’s struggle to adapt to life on a farm near a declining Georgia village, after moving from the city with her family for idealistic reasons. “I was smitten with farming and the idea of farming, using the old way and the new way, neither of which is the corporate way,” she writes. But while her new life yielded deep satisfactions, rural life in the twenty-first century—when about 80 percent of the U.S. population now lives in urban areas—felt very different from her memories of growing up in another close-knit rural community in Georgia. In the essay she writes movingly of the challenges of isolation and the deep human need to connect with others, themes that have taken on new resonance since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. Pushcart Press founder and editor Bill Henderson, writing from rural Maine, praised Ray’s depiction of life in the countryside. “Janisse gets it just right, a wonderful evocation,” he said.

The Lonely Ruralist” was published in The Georgia Review alongside another essay by Ray, “Now, Looking Back,” in which she reflects upon the insights that informed her development as a writer.

To commemorate this honor, Janisse’s husband, painter Raven Waters, has created a new work!

The Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses series has been published annually since 1976, anthologizing its editors’ selection of the year’s outstanding short stories, poetry, and essays. The 2020 edition, which includes Ray’s essay, is on sale now. We encourage readers to support independent bookstores—order from or choose our own local indie, Avid Bookshop, to get some snail mail from Athens, Georgia, and enjoy the best of 2020 literature.