Joy Williams

Joy Williams is the author of four novels, four previous story collections, and the book of essays Ill Nature. She’s been nominated for the National Book Award, The Pulitzer Prize, and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her most recent title is The Visiting Privilege: New & Collected Stories. She lives in Tucson, Arizona, and Laramie, Wyoming.


  • Wry and playful, except for when densely allusive and willfully obtuse, Ninety-Nine Stories of God is a treasure trove of bafflements and tiny masterpieces.

    —The New York Times Book Review

  • [The stories in Ninety-Nine Stories of God] miniaturize the qualities found in Joy Williams’s celebrated short stories: concision, jumped connections, singular details, brutal humor. I say “celebrated” because Williams has been writing stories for forty years, and for forty years her literary peers—from Ann Beattie to Raymond Carver, from James Salter to Don DeLillo—have regarded her work with a kind of Masonic fellow-feeling. Yet she remains, in some ways, a difficult, and certainly an original, writer. She writes at a slight angle to the culture, literary and otherwise. Her fiction is easy to follow and hard to fathom; easy to enjoy and harder to absorb.

    —The New Yorker

  • [Q]uietly splendid. . . . I believe in art, and Ninety-Nine Stories of God feels like prayer to me.

    —Boston Globe

  • Not many writers can launch a premise like “The Lord was in line at the pharmacy counter waiting to get His shingles shot” without falling into gimmickry, but Williams—long known as a master story writer—twists the scenario to an eerily moving effect. In manipulating our most deeply rooted expectations, shooting them through a prism of irony and wonder, she has created a cockeyed book of common prayer.

    —San Francisco Chronicle

  • Baffling and illuminating, witty and disturbing, these 99 religious-flavored vignettes may not tell you why we are here or where we are going, but they do possess the power to entrance. The divine Joy Williams continues to work in mysterious ways.

    —The Minnesota Star Tribune, Best Fiction of the Year

  • Sly and wonderful. . . . [Williams is] after some big truths in a few words, stories so short that some of them could fit on Twitter, except they’re too smart and not mean enough.

    —The Seattle Times

  • A collection of fiction for our fractured times from a modern master — funny, profound and redemptive.

    —The Seattle Times, Best Books of 2016

  • Williams says more in a page-long scene than most can say in a chapter; it’s fitting, then, that her very short collection manages to encompass such an eternal theme with wit and grace.

    —Huffington Post

  • [Williams] is … a master of momentum; the stories in Ninety-Nine Stories of God end and snap, end and snap, their wit yanking you up and dressing you down right when you get a rhythm going.

    —The Week

  • Read together, Joy Williams’ stories are a humanist manifesto, a celebration of our most mysterious values, desires and prejudices.

    —Huffington Post, Best Fiction of 2016

  • Read together, Joy Williams’ stories are a humanist manifesto, a celebration of our most mysterious values, desires and prejudices.

    —Huffington Post, Best Fiction of 2016

  • Williams addicts will mainline [Ninety-Nine Stories of God]; newcomers should chase the high with last year’s The Visiting Privilege.

    —New York Magazine

  • While Marilynn Robinson (stately, assured) is so often held up as the major Christian believer in American letters, I would argue that, along with Annie Dillard, Joy Williams is the true seeker. Her stories are probes sent out into the universe.

    —Oxford American

  • Masterly . . . Ms. Williams is her usual funny, irreverent self.

    —The New York Times

  • Joy Williams is one of America’s greatest living writers.


  • Joy Williams is our contemporary O’Connor with a mix of Protestant sacraments . . . and a Zen Koan consciousness.”

    —The Los Angeles Review of Books

  • Every Joy Williams publication is a cause for celebration, and Ninety-Nine Stories of God shows Williams in her usual biting, insightful, and darkly humorous form.

    —Electric Literature, Best Short Story Collections of 2016

  • Each story is beautifully strange and meditative in an unexpected but glorious way. . . . Inarguably inspired, Ninety-Nine Stories of God is a devotional for modern cynics and believers alike.

    —Lenny Letter

  • Ninety-Nine Stories of God is gorgeously written, sentence-to-sentence, and arrives in vignettes that are condensed but not constrained, tight but not dry.

    —The Millions

  • Weirdly soothing . . . The best approach is to read Ninety-Nine Stories of God all in one shot, and then dip in randomly thereafter, at your darkest and dimmest hour, finding solace.

    —The Ringer

  • Each story in this collection shoots like a flare over the abyss of our existential dilemma, flashing the briefest light on the depths below and above.

    —Eugene Weekly

  • Magnificent, imaginative, and moving. 

    —Read It Forward

  • Much like the divine, Williams’ prose is simple and brutal, thoughtful and haunting. A spare but startling book.

    —Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

  • Admirers of Williams—and anyone who treasures a story well told should be one—will find much to like here.


  • The most beguiling book of the summer is this little collection of 99 very short stories about God. The catch is that the brilliantly twisted Joy Williams is behind the stories, which means the Lord finds himself at a hotdog-eating contest or in line for a shingles vaccination. Mayhem, humor, and death mark this transcendent book.

    —Publishers Weekly, Best Books of Summer

  • [T]hese stories are 100% Williams: funny, unsettling, and mysterious, to be puzzled over and enjoyed across multiple readings.

    —Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

  • I would follow the trail of Joy Williams’s words—always beautiful, compelling, and so wise—anywhere they led.

    —Chuck Palahniuk, author of CHOKE and FIGHT CLUB

  • These modern fables and skewed vignettes make the implausible plausible. Compression, as done by Joy Williams, extends the reach of her stories.

    —Amy Hempel, author of AT THE GATES OF THE ANIMAL KINGDOM

  • Each story, like living tissue, is a reliquary that makes something splendid of our most secret agonies and desires.

    —Darcey Steinke, author of SISTER GOLDEN HAIR

  • These stories are as full of surprises as a Noah’s Ark filled with mystical beasts, three of each.

    —Edmund White, author of A BOY'S OWN STORY

  • Joy Williams’s Ninety-Nine Stories of God reads like a blog-era bible as conceived by Borges, Barthelme, and Mark Twain. No writer alive captures the voices in the post-millennial psychic wilderness like Joy Williams.

    —Jerry Stahl, author of PERMANENT MIDNIGHT

  • The word count of this slender, extraordinary collection belies the density and combustibility of its contents, their midnight hilarity and edgeless reach. Joy Williams is our feral philosopher.

    —Karen Russell, author of VAMPIRES IN THE LEMON GROVE