I think one of the big mistakes we make in life is that we think that we need to present happy endings or we believe that love completes us. Nothing completes us. We’re always – I think any human that’s honest with themselves – is always searching, always curious. But it’s still beautiful. It’s still wonderful. It’s still, for me, the best thing.
— Alina Stefanescu in interview with Katie Safell

Available for purchase online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.


Publisher: Brighthorse Books

Publication date:04/01/2018

Paperback, 254 pp. $16.95


Carried by independent booksellers including:

Ernest & Hadley Booksellers

Little Professor Book Center

For distribution, contact Ingram Book Ordering Services.

To download a Press Pack in PDF.

advance praise

"The first book by an Alabama author to win the Brighthorse Books Fiction Prize, Alina Stefanescu's stories bring an immigrant's sharp eye to the American way of life. In prose that reminds us of the best of Grace Paley, Every Mask I Tried On is by turns smart, funny, and profound. Including prize-winning stories previously published in multiple literary journals, this collection weaves through fabulism, magical realism, and poignant realistic fiction to leave the reader in the post-national space of home and life."

Mark Yakich, Gregory F. Curtin, S.J. Distinguished Professor of English at Loyola University New Orleans and author of Poetry: A Survivor's Guide, says:

"This book is so much more than the bouquet of its masks, and it marks the birth of a one-of-kind prose stylist. An Everywoman all her own. After reading one page or even one paragraph, I dare you not to conclude that you've been going through the motions of reading, if not day-to-day living, for years."

Therese Svoboda, author of six books of fiction and recipient of a Guggenheim Award, warns:

"Don't come looking for labyrinthine plot, long hairy description, or character charts in Alina Stefanescu's snappy Every Mask I Tried On. You know these people, you know what happens. You're in it for the "snartling," where you laugh through the nose and admire your own snark. "If you've ever tried to comfort a man during a rich menstrual season with half your mouth still numb from molar cavity fillings, you know where this is going." From her "eco-frottage" (rubbing your forehead against a tree) to worshipping a badminton birdie, Stefanescu makes sentences that blow the top off story."

Timothy Schaffert, author of The Swan Gondola, writes:

"Delicious and coolly wicked, as lush as it is precise, Every Mask I Tried On offers sharply focused portraits of domesticity that nonetheless verge on the surreal. I love Stefanescu's vision and voice, her wit and honesty. The characters' serenity often hinges on something vaguely sinister, and their daily peacemaking and ritual - whether it's baking a cake, collecting stamps, or inching through the carpool line - hints at a darker impulse, reminiscent of Margaret Atwood's best studies of contemporary life."

Prize-winning fiction writer and author of Wait Till You See Me Dance Deb Olin Unferth celebrates the book's "smart, beautiful energy":

"These stories of true love and family-making show an author with an exuberant soul, a terrific sense of humor, a philosophical mind, serious eyes, and a heart that knows but is not defeated by sorrow. Addictive, hilarious, vigorous tales."

readings, signings, & random book happenings



"A Mask For Every Occasion: A Review of Every Mask I Tried On by Alina Stefanescu" by China Myers (Duende, July 25, 2018)

"On masks, being an outsider, and dread: An interview with Alina Stefanescu" (Former Cactus, June 2018) 

"You Have to Laugh", Interview with Katie Saffell, Brighthorse Books, May 1, 2018.

"Author wins award to publish 1st short story collection," Alyx Chandler, Iron City Ink, 18 May 2018



about the author

Alina Stefanescu was born in Romania and lives in Alabama. Her poems and prose are recent or forthcoming in DIAGRAM, New South, Mantis, VOLT, Cloudbank, Prairie Schooner, NELLE, and others. She serves as Poetry Editor of Pidgeonholes and President of the Alabama State Poetry Society. Her first poetry chapbook, 'Objects in Vases' (Anchor & Plume Press, 2016) won the ASPS Poetry Book of the Year Award. Her first poetry collection, 'Stories to Read Aloud to Your Fetus' (Finishing Line Press, 2017) included Pushcart-nominated poems. Her debut fiction collection, 'Every Mask I Tried On', won the Brighthorse Books Prize and was published in May 2018. More online at www.alinastefanescuwriter.com or @aliner.

A smart, compelling collection. Alina Stefanescu is a prose writer who is not afraid to show her many sides: poet, lover, mother, immigrant, fighter, scholar. Read this for a new look at the domestic sphere in an America that needs to change. Read this to experience the originality of every sentence.
— Jan Stinchcomb, author of FIND THE GIRL (Main Street Rag)
It’s amazingly noteworthy that at the end of ‘Every Mask I Tried On: Short Stories,’ Alina Stefanescu acknowledges twenty-four literary journals that first published the various short stories in her collection, and she then goes on to thank Brighthorse Books for publishing this collection as their prize winner. There isn’t much that can be added to attest to the quality of writing in this book.

Alina’s sculpting of words and sentences is breathtaking at times; honest, vulnerable, witty, scrappy, and grief-ridden. I would also add challenging, as this true literary artist challenges tradition of all sorts, lack of tradition, sex, lack of sex, emotional intimacy, lack of intimacy, politics, lack of ideology, your thoughts, my thoughts, every person’s thoughts, in addition to her own. For those who love literary art, this is a definite five-star read.
— Carolyn Breckenridge, author of KALEIDOSCOPE JANE AND OTHER STORIES
Every Mask I Tried On is hard to put down because each story carries its own weight. Its compelling language intrigues the reader to continue to the next chronicle, not knowing what they may find. Reading her stories engage a multitude of emotions, leaving the reader wondering how someone could be so brave, so cruel, so composed.
— China Meyers in her review for Duende

contact & readings

To schedule readings, book signings, or interviews, please contact the author by email at rainscented@gmail.com or by using this handy-dandy web-based interface.

For upcoming readings, signings, and events, see the Events page.

To request a review copy:

Brighthorse Books
13202 N River Drive
Omaha, NE 68112

To download a Press Pack in PDF.