Get to know Mary Otis

Mary Otis is the author of the novel, Burst, as well as the short story collection, Yes, Yes, Cherries (Tin House Books). Her stories and essays have been published in Best New American Voices, Electric Literature, McSweeney’s, Tin House, Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Review of Books, and in many literary journals and anthologies. She has recently published poetry in Zyzzyva along with poems forthcoming in the Bennington Review.

The New York Times has said of her work, “Sadness and humor sidle up to each other, evocative of the delicate balance of melancholy and wit found in Lorrie Moore’s stories.” Her story "Pilgrim Girl" received an Honorable Mention for the Pushcart Prize, and her story "Unstruck" was a Distinguished Story of the Year in Best American Short Stories.

She was a Walter Dakin Fellow and received a Getty Foundation Scholarship. Mary attended Bennington College and was a founding fiction professor in the UC Riverside Low-Residency MFA Program where she taught for twelve years.

Originally from the Boston area, Mary lives in Los Angeles.



Fun fact

I'm related to Amelia Earhart

Favorite author

Alice Munro and Joy Wiliams

Favorite place in the world

At my writing desk or walking, which is integral to my writing

Favorite place to read

My fainting couch from the 1800s

Books by Mary Otis


Published April 04, 2023 


Longlisted for the Joyce Carol Oates Prize

Winner, Independent Publisher Book Awards, Silver Medal - Literary Fiction


Featured on PBS NewsHour 

Named by Good Morning America, New York Post, and Los Angeles Daily News as one of the Best Books of Spring 2023


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A deeply moving debut novel from the award-winning author of Yes, Yes, Cherries (“Funny, brave, and amazing”—Lorrie Moore) that explores the relationship complexities between mothers and daughters, the desire to escape, and the longing to connect. Viva has always found ways to manage her mother’s impulsive, eccentric and addictive personality. She’s had to—for her entire life, it has always been Viva and Charlotte against the world. After accidentally discovering an innate ability for dance, Viva chases her new passion with the same fervor with which her mother chases the bottle.

Over the years, Viva’s talent becomes a ticket to a life of her own, and as she moves further away from home to pursue her dream, Charlotte struggles to make peace with her own past as a failed artist and the effects of her addiction. When tragedy strikes, Viva begins a downward spiral and must decide whether she will repeat her mother’s mistakes or finally take control of her life. Told from interwoven perspectives with lyrical prose as deft as a choreographed dance.

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