Dayna Tortorici



I am a writer and editor living in New York City.

I  write about books, culture, feminism, and politics, and have been co-editor of n+1, a print and digital magazine based in New York, since 2014.

My writing has appeared in The Atlantic, The Guardian, Harper’s, n+1, New York Magazine, The New York Review of BooksThe New York Times Book Review, TVogue, and elsewhere. My essay In the Maze was included in The Best American Essays 2019.

Essays and short stories I’ve edited have been recognized by the Best American Essays, the Pushcart Prize, the O. Henry Award, and the Rona Jaffe award. Several have been developed into books. I’ve edited three books with n+1 Books, most recently No Regrets (2013).

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Selected Writing

August 2022

Emma Talbot, In The End, The Beginning. 2021, acrylic on silk. 82 × 58". Courtesy of the artist, via n+1.
Your Body, My Choice

“Euphemisms have long clouded the abortion debate, and there is no term in American politics more mendacious than pro-life. Now that the Supreme Court of the United States has overturned Roe v. Wade and the constitutional right to an abortion in Dobbs v. Jackson  [. . . ]  it is essential to call things what they are. Those who wish to ban legal abortion are not “pro-life”; they are pro-criminalization. Those who wish to protect the right to abortion are not “pro-choice”; they are anti-criminalization. Reframing the conflict in these terms clarifies the stakes. At issue here is not a principled attachment to “life” or to “choice” but the practical question of whether terminating a pregnancy should be considered a crime. It also lessens the temptation to exhaust oneself doing what we often waste time doing: calling hypocrites hypocritical, as if they care.’’

On Dobbs v. Jackson and the movement to criminalize abortion.

June 2021

Sam McKinniss, Madonna, 2018, oil and acrylic on canvas, 16 x 12". Courtesy the artist and Almine Rech, via Bookforum.
What Are You Looking At?

“Onstage, her energy is explosive. She’s jumping, flexing, kicking, strutting, thrusting, pirouetting, and running in place. She’s fondling her Gaultier cone bra, grabbing her crotch. Her body is insane, tiny and muscular and somehow still soft. Offstage, her boundaries are, by today’s standards, abominable, especially for a boss. ‘Does Jose love me more than I love him?’ she croaks, hanging off his arm in a hotel. Luis says yes, that Jose comes back from rehearsal and pumps ‘Lucky Star’ in his room—that’s how much he loves her. Madonna drops to the floor and puts her loving cheek on his foot. ‘Don’t ever leave me!’”

On Truth or Dare, Madonna’s 1991 tour documentary, thirty years later.

February 2021

Photo by Lucia Buricelli for SSENSE.
Kitchen Person

“There is being a kitchen person, and then there is being a kitchen alpha. A kitchen person likes to cook, to linger, to stand in the kitchen at a house party, and in all likelihood has opinions about what makes a good kitchen. Kitchen alphas, by contrast, step into their natural authority in the kitchen and suffer when they cannot be in charge. All kitchen alphas are kitchen people, but not all kitchen people are alphas.”

On kitchens and the people who love them.

September 2020

Photo by Mitch Bach. Via The New York Review of Books.
The Desk and the Daring
The New York Review of Books

“She was fascinated by how much the scientist’s inner life resembled the writer’s: both ruminated ‘continuously on the nature of physical or imaginative life’; both endured ‘grinding, repetitive’ work in hopes of breaking through. Both caught insight by surprise—in the shower, at 3 in the morning—and felt elation and relief when they did. Gornick was moved by the perseverance of the women who had occupied ‘peripheral, often humiliating positions’ for decades just to feel the pleasure of their own minds at work.’”

On Vivian Gornick.

September 2020

OHGIGI for The New York Times Book Reivew. 
Woman Kind
The New York Times Book Review

“For Giovanna and her peers, there is less physical violence and more freedom of movement, less homophobia and more negative body image. (This is the era of Reviving Ophelia.) There is also more humor to be found, at least in Giovanna’s perfect Gen X deadpan. But the deep structure of psychic life is the same: Love stands at the center of women’s lives more than it should; ambition is tangled up in sex; desire doesn’t so much blind the characters as hijack their powers of judgment and conscript them into its service.”

A review of The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante.

January 2020

Olga Mikh Fedorova, Protection. 2019, print on canvas. 31 1/2 × 23 3/5”. Courtesy of the artist.
My Instagram

“Instagram people did not seem mean or clever. They were earnest and sincere. They drank green smoothies and went on hikes, sought personal bests, good health, peace of mind, and oneness with the universe. They believed every day was a beautiful day to be alive. Leaving Twitter for Instagram was like moving to Los Angeles, only cheaper.”

An essay about life on Instagram.

Reprinted by The Guardian under the headline Infinite Scroll.

January 2019

Market Research: Pencil Skirt

“The message of this skirt is not subtle. The politician who wears it will be irrational and constricted in her dress so that she may be sensible and deregulatory in her work. Pants on women is for communists and technocrats; pencil skirts are for open markets and closed borders, unbounded trade and bounded legs.”

A meditation on the Givenchy 4G button skirt and the political connotations of pencil skirts.

January 2018

Lola Rose Thompson, Everyone Pretending To Be Fine And Dandy Until They Can’t. 2016, watercolor on paper. Courtesy of the artist.
In The Maze

“Whatever else it may be, sexual harassment in the ‘workplace context’ is a check on a person’s autonomy, a threat to one’s means of self-support. It can feel like being put in place, chastised, challenged, or dared. Sure, you can do anything, it says. But don’t forget that I can still do this. The dare comes from winners and losers alike. Either you accept it and pay one price or you don’t and pay another. All of it always feels bad.”

An essay in response to Me Too, the Trump administration, and the year 2017.

Reprinted in The Guardian under the headline Reckoning with a culture of male resentment.

December 2017

Tax day protests 2017.
You’re The Real Job Creator
n+1 online

“We judge the government’s behavior as if smaller deficits are by definition good, bigger deficits are by definition bad, and a balanced budget is by definition the goal. All of that, in my view, is just getting it wrong.”

An interview with economist Stephanie Kelton.

November 2017

Signs in a storeroom at the headquarters for the Chicago Teachers Union strike in 2012 © AP Photo/Sitthixay Ditthavong.
Lean Out
Harper’s Magazine

“For the time being, feminist struggles are labor struggles, and labor struggles are feminist struggles. The Trump Administration’s push to eliminate public services, from Medicaid to schools, is a battle in which women have a special stake, and not only because millions of health-care workers and educators are women.”

A review of No Shortcuts: Organizing for Power in the New Gilded Age, by Jane McAlevey. 

October 2016

Virginia Woolf’s desk.
n+1 online

“‘I need solitude,’ Woolf wrote in her diaries. ‘I need space. I need air. I need the empty fields around me; and my legs pounding along roads; and sleep; and animal existence.’”

On Elena Ferrante’s privacy.

December 2016

Richie Pope.
Zadie Smith’s Dance of Ambivalence
The Atlantic

“Smith links the dancer’s gift of knowing the right time to do everything to the storyteller’s gift of knowing the right time to say everything. Tracey, from a young age, possesses both.”

A review of Swing Time by Zadie Smith.

June 2016

Hiroko Masuike for The New York Times.
Countering the Offensive
The New York Times Book Reivew

“Such is the double bind of sex-objecthood: You resent the standards but still want to meet them, because that’s the ticket to love. Ultimately, West did come to know this most important thing, and like Valenti, saw the double bind thrown back at her in the form of a contradictory threat: You are too fat and ugly to rape, but I would rape you anyway.”

A review of Sex Object by Jessica Valenti and Shrill: Notes From A Loud Woman by Lindy West.

March 2015

Path of Figs, 2012. Giulia Bianchi.
Those Like Us

“The Milan Women’s Bookstore Collective  encouraged women to seek out symbolic mothers and symbolic daughters, and to build a tissue of preferential relationships. To entrust oneself, Muraro wrote, meant to ‘tie yourself to a person who can help you achieve something which you think you are capable of but which you have not yet achieved.’”

On Elena Ferrante’s feminist influences.