Cover image for Contemporary American women fiction writers : an A-to-Z guide


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS374.W6 C66 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Reference

On Order



American women writers have long been creating an extraordinarily diverse and vital body of fiction, particularly in the decades since World War II. Recent authors have benefited from the struggles of their predecessors, who broke through barriers that denied women opportunities for self-expression. This reference highlights American women writers who continue to build upon the formerly male-dominated canon.

Included are alphabetically arranged entries for more than 60 American women writers of diverse ethnicity who wrote or published their most significant fiction after World War II. Each entry is written by an expert contributor and includes:^L^DBLA brief biography^L^DBLA discussion of major works and themes^^DBLA survey of the writer's critical reception^L^DBLA bibliography of primary and secondary sources

Author Notes

LAURIE CHAMPION is Assistant Professor of English at San Diego State University, Imperial Valley. Her previous books include The Critical Response to Huckleberry Finn (1991), The Critical Response to Eudora Welty's Fiction (1994), and American Women Writers, 1900-1945 (2000), all available from Greenwood Press.

RHONDA AUSTIN is Lecturer in English at Sul Ross State University, where she teaches English composition, technical writing, and literature. She has published several short stories and is currently developing and teaching online courses.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Into the crowded field of biographical reference sources come two new works from Greenwood. Each covers 60 to 70 women writers who have written the majority of their works since 1945. Some authors, such as Toni Morrison, are established authors, while others, such as Sandra Cisneros, are still building their reputations. The writers are racially and ethnically diverse. However, in neither volume have the editors clearly explained the criteria they used in choosing authors. In Contemporary American Women Fiction Writers, the editors state the women selected have all been writing since 1945 and have made "significant contributions to the contemporary literary scene." Except for a few, such as Judy Blume and Sara Paretksy, all are literary authors, but why Amy Hempel and Linda Hogan were chosen over Susan Isaacs, Sue Miller, or Rosellen Brown is never made clear. Genre authors are generally excluded except for Paretsky. The editors of Contemporary American Women Poets say that the selected poets have written since 1945, represent a wide variety of ethnic and racial backgrounds, and come from all parts of the U.S. but offer no further explanation that justifies why some poets were chosen over others. Each book is set up in an A^-Z format with each author having a five-to six-page essay. Each essay includes a biography, an analysis of the writer's major works, and a bibliography of works by and about the author. The essays themselves are very readable and would be appropriate for high-school students and general readers who need a good overview of the writer's life and works. Because the essays are relatively short, college students would not have enough information for research papers but would find the articles helpful introductions. Reference works on literary biography abound. The writers in both of these volumes are all included in Gale's Contemporary Authors series. Many are also included in Gale's Dictionary of Literary Biography series and Contemporary Literary Criticism series, which give more extensive biographical and analytical information. At least 20 of the fiction writers are also included in the H. W. Wilson Authors series. Approximately two-thirds of the poets can be found in Salem's Critical Survey of Poetry. Libraries that already own Contemporary Authors and other Gale, Wilson, and Salem series might want to pass on these works, but smaller public libraries and high-school school libraries will find these volumes very helpful for students and general readers who want a good overview of contemporary women authors and poets.

Choice Review

Probably meant as a companion to American Women Writers, 1900-45: A Biobibliographical Sourcebook, ed. by Champion (CH, Mar'01), this volume highlights diverse women writers (most of whom are award recipients), especially American ethnics who made "significant contributions to the contemporary literary scenes," whose themes and fictional characters defy traditionally prescribed roles for women, and whose main contributions appeared after 1945. Its selections emphasize literary importance rather than popularity and exclude many romance, science fiction, and mystery writers. Among rival publications, it is more up-to-date than American Women Writers: A Critical Reference Guide, ed. by Langdon L. Faust (abridged ed., 1988); more inclusive than the biobibliographical essays in American Women Writers, ed. by Maurice Duke, Jackson Bryer, and M. Thomas Inge (CH, Oct'83) that emphasized critical trends and evaluated secondary works; and more extensive than American Women Writers, 1900-1960, ed. by Harold Bloom (1997). Champion and Austin's essay for each of 60 writers consists of four sections: biography, major works and themes, critical reception, and bibliography (citing both primary and secondary sources). A selected bibliography and a roster of editors and contributors are included, but there is no categorization in either text or index (who wrote what in which genre?). ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Undergraduate and public libraries. P. Kujoory formerly, Southern Methodist University

Table of Contents

IntroductionLaurie Champion and Alice Adams and Julie S. Amberg Julia Alvarez (1950- ) and J. Elizabeth Clark and Catherine Cucinella Andrea Barrett (1965- ) and Ernest Smith Ann Beattie (1947- ) and Claudia Milstead Judy Blume (1938- ) and Austin Booth Rita Mae Brown (1944- ) and Roxanne Harde Ana Castillo (1953 ) and Laurie Champion Denise Chavez (1948- ) and Beverly G. Six Alice Childress (1920-1994) and Joelle Biele Sandra Cisneros (1954- ) and Joy Castro J. Colifornia Cooper (19??- ) and Michelle L. Taylor Ellen Douglas (Josephine Ayres Haxton) (1921- ) and Elizabeth J. Wright Louise Erdrich (1954 ) and Ann Engar Mary Gaitskill (1954- ) and Robert Johnson Kaye Gibbons (1960- ) and Elizabeth J. Wright Gail Godwin (1937- ) and Lynn Domina Mary Gordon (1949- ) and Cheryl D. Bohde Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey (1938- ) and Kristin Brunnemer Shelby Hearon (1931- ) and Elizabeth Blakesley Lindsay Amy Hempel (1951- ) and Rhonda Cawthorn Linda Hogan (1947- ) and Ellen L. Arnold Mary Hood (1946- ) and Angela Laflen Josephine Humphreys (1945- ) and Bill Clem Gish Hen (1956- ) and Cora Agatucci Diane Johnson (1934- ) and Stephanie Brown Gayle Jones (1949- ) and Michelle L. Taylor Jamaica Kincaid (1949- ) and Sharon Hileman Nanci Kincaid (1950- ) and Deborah Maltby Barbara Kingsolver (1955- ) and Lisa Abney Maxine (Ting Ting) Hong Kingston (1940- ) and Sharon Hileman Harper Lee (1926- ) and Catherine Cucinella Ursula K. LeGuin (1929- ) and Kate K. Davis Beverly Lowry (1938- ) and Stephanie Gordon Paule Marshall (1929- ) and Michelle L. Taylor Bobbie Ann Mason (1940- ) and Laurie Champion Elizabeth McCracken (1966- ) and Roy Flannagan Jill McCorkle (1958- ) and Suzanne Disheroon-Green Colleen Johnson McElroy (1935- ) and James L. Hill Terry McMillan (1951- ) and Suzanne Disheroon-Green Toni Morrison (1931- ) and Julie Buckner Armstrong Gloria Naylor (1950- ) and Chris Ruiz-Velasco Joyce Carol Oates (1938- ) and Mona Choucair Tillie Olsen (1912 or 1913- ) and Ernest Smith Cynthis Ozick (1928- ) and Laurie Champion Grace (Goodside) Paley (1922- ) and Lisa Maria Burgess Noudehou Sara Paretshy (1947- ) and Elizabeth Blakesley Lindsay Ann Petry (1908-1997) and Michelle L. Taylor Jayne Anne Phillips (1952- ) and Andrea Adolph Francine Prose (1947- ) and J. P. Steed Marilynne Robinson (1944- ) and Catherine Rainwater Mary Robinson (1949- ) and Cynthia Whitney Hallett Leslie Marmon Silko (1948- ) and Catherine Rainwater Jane Smiley (1949- ) and Jesse Cohn Lee Smith (1944- ) and Cathy Downs Elizabeth Ann Tallent (1954- ) and Laurie Champion Amy Tan (1952- ) and Carman C. Curton Melanie Rae Thon (1957- ) and Kate K. Davis Anne Tyler (1941- ) and Donna Buchanan Cook Alice Walker (1944- ) and Lisa Abney Joy Williams (1944- ) and J. Elizabeth Clark
Selected Bibliography