Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Larissa Melo Pienkowski of Jill Grinberg Literary Management

Larissa Melo Pienkowski is a literary agent with Jill Grinberg Literary Management.

Larissa grew up outside of Boston and attended Simmons University, where she earned her degree in Social Work and Sociology, performed poetry competitively and recreationally, and edited a number of literary magazines. Larissa later went on to receive her MA in Publishing and Writing from Emerson College, where she worked with the likes of Beacon Press and Barefoot Books before becoming the assistant publisher of an independent feminist press. She joined JGLM as an agent in 2020 and represents a wide range of adult and children’s fiction and nonfiction, with a deep-rooted passion for championing the stories of authors from historically excluded backgrounds. The daughter of Brazilian and Polish immigrants, Larissa speaks Portuguese and Spanish. She lives in Philadelphia with her fiancée and very fluffy husky, Olaf, and when she isn’t curled up with a good book or traveling the world, she can be found in her ceramics studio, where she makes wheel-thrown and hand-built porcelain pieces.

She is seeking:

Larissa gravitates toward books with an emotional pull, unforgettable characters with propulsive desires, unique voices that leap off the page, lush and lyrical writing, and underexplored themes. She is focused on centering BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, disabled, neurodivergent, and other historically excluded voices across all genres.

In adult fiction, she is looking for voice-y, real stories of diaspora and migration; sweeping, multigenerational family sagas and dual timelines; enchanting magical realism and quirky light fantasy, especially if it takes place in a bookstore, library, or seaside village; atmospheric queer, feminist, and non-Western horror with subtle social commentary; heists, cons, and scams with high personal stakes; smart, steamy, laugh-out-loud rom-coms and women’s fiction with unique twists on tropes; BIPOC-centered reinventions of “classics”; historical fiction with rebellious, society-defying protagonists; and stories based in South and Central America, including titles in translation (ela está procurando representar mais autores brasileiros em particular).

In middle-grade and YA fiction, Larissa holds a soft spot for ragtag misfits-turned-best friends in mystery-adventures; stories that incorporate family, friendship, and strong cultural elements without being exclusively issues-driven; magical realism and light fantasy grounded in the experiences and insecurities that are part of growing up; non-Western folklore; and emotional, lyrical stories that explore heavier emotions and experiences in ways kids relate to.

On the adult nonfiction side, she is seeking narrative nonfiction that blends personal experience with investigative reporting; cookbooks that feature diverse and authentic cuisines; food writing that weaves together culture, society, and the food we eat in community; essay collections that chronicle contemporary life through the lens of social justice, decolonial thinking, and liberation; and cultural history and analysis of niche topics (bonus points for topics like fragrance, beauty, and poison).

Right now, she’s not the best fit for: stories exploring issues of identity written by authors who don’t share that identity; apocalyptic, post-apocalyptic, or dystopian novels; space operas and deep sci-fi; angel/demon, heaven/hell stories; pro-military, pro-detective, or pro-police books; anything having to do with Nazis or terrorists; fantasy featuring elves, aliens, robots, fae, dragons, vampires, werewolves, or unicorns; WWII historical fiction; COVID memoirs; and nonfiction centered on business, economics, or politics. She is temporarily putting a hold on poetry and children’s picture book submissions.

In the spirit of uplifting the work of those historically excluded from publishing and bringing more widespread representation to bookshelves everywhere, Larissa is primarily focused on representing marginalized voices and experiences in all genres.

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