Debut Novel by Writing Alumna LJ Pemberton ’10 Forthcoming From Malarkey Books

Still Alive, a debut novel by writing alumna LJ Pemberton ’10, will be published by Malarkey Books in February 2024.

Lisa Cochran
December 07, 2023

Still Alive, a debut novel by writing alumna LJ Pemberton ’10, will be published by Malarkey Books in February 2024.

The novel recounts protagonist V’s odyssey across the United States. Along the way, at an underground punk show, she meets Lex, a butch painter, and the two enter a long-term romance. Their relationship is occasionally rocked by V’s familial dysfunction–her father has found a new family, her brother has become fixated with Eastern religions, and her mother suffers from addiction.  

As V whizzes from city to city, her gay best friend, Leroy, has opted to live comfortably in the country. Unlike him, V cannot seem to feel grounded anywhere. Forefronting a recursive depiction of millennial strife, Pemberton’s protagonist seeks purpose, love, and temp work, resisting mainstream narratives along the way.

Writing alumna, Adjunct Associate Professor, and author of Terrace Story and Temporary Hilary Leichter ’12 writes, “This is a book for wanderers and searchers, a love story with all of the attendant cliches wadded into a ball and tossed overboard. LJ Pemberton has written a quarter-life raft for the dissatisfied and unmoored. Still Alive is punch-drunk and furious, listless and wondrous, brilliantly funny and sexy as hell. I devoured it.”

"My time at the School of the Arts was an intense period of becoming—both personally and artistically,” said Pemberton. “They say that you should never meet your heroes—but meeting canonized poets and novelists and journalists and editors taught me that every byline is a person, with all the complicating flaws of being that we all struggle with, and this was just the fuel I needed to know that the writer's life was something I could pursue. I left more brazen than ever, on a new path, with new goals and priorities, and I am grateful for the push." 

Still Alive is available for pre-order here

LJ Pemberton previously served as an assistant editor at NOON and currently reviews fiction for Publishers Weekly. Her photography has appeared in London Photo Festival, Hobart, The Northwest Review, and has been featured by Metro Los Angeles. Her short stories, essays, and poetry can be read in The Los Angeles Review, Malarkey Books, X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine, the Brooklyn Rail, The Electric Encyclopedia of Experimental Literature, Northwest Review, Exacting Clam, The Baffler, and elsewhere.