Our Living Literary Treasures

January 16, 2011  |  

10) J. California Cooper: Novelist, playwright, short story writer

Best known for: “In Search of Satisfaction,” “Some People, Some Other Place,” “Family”

Why we love her: Though typically press shy, Cooper seems to open up the whole universe for all to see in her novels and short stories. She sprinkles her prose with with bits of magic and whimsy, but nestled into those perfectly structured sentences are insights into life, love and humanity.  In the late ’70s, Alice Walker encouraged then playwright Cooper to give fiction writing a try and the rest is history.

Noteable quotable: “I didn’t write for applause. I’m glad it came, no doubt about it. But I wrote because I’ve been–I was telling stories before I could write. I played with paper dolls ’til I was 18 and nobody even knew my stories except my mother.”

Who are your favorite living literary treasures?

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  • Diva

    There are other authors that you have forgotten about. The "old standards" are great, however please look to the other voices of literary fiction. These women are writing about love, loss and everything in between and it's not Urban Fiction. They are never are mention because we always fall back on Walker, Cooper, Angelou, Mcmillan, Morrison, and Smith.

    Please open your eyes and the eyes of your readers by locating them. These authors also deserve their spotlight.

    **Some of these ladies are also New York Time best-selling authors, won several literary awards, and have over 30 or 40 books in print.


  • Neilah

    Great post ! However you guys could have found a better picture of Ntozake Shange! Sheesh! Give the woman the respect she's owed! *SMH*

  • Kristine

    I LOVED this article! Thank you! Toni Morrison has to be my favorite because she allows the reader to become a part of each character.

  • Ari

    This was an interesting post to read, I hadn't heard of Danzy Senza so thank you for pointing her out to me! Caucasia sounds like a fabulous novel.

  • MissAj

    What about Sonia Sanchez?

  • Danielle

    How about Nikki Giovani

  • Can

    I'm surprised (and a bit disappointed) that you didn't include Octavia Butler—as I learned about her from this website. And in literary terms she i one of the few African American Women Sci-Fi writers. I enjoyed both Fledgling and Kindred from Ms. Butler.

    • Ari

      Maybe they didn't include her because she's no longer living? I still need to read Kindred!

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