1922–2007, American writer and social activist, b. the Bronx, N.Y., as Grace Goodside. In short stories mainly celebrating the lives of women, Paley paints the daily lives of working-class Jewish New Yorkers. Her language is at once realistic and heightened, with a superb command of Yiddish-inflected speech (and other dialects), and her vision of urban life is often wry, intensely political, and profoundly humane. She published four volumes of stories: The Litttle Disturbances of Man
(1959), Enormous Changes at the Last Minute
(1974, film 1983), Later the Same Day
(1985), and Collected Stories
(1994, repr. 2007). Her poems are collected in such volumes as Leaning Forward
(1985), Begin Again
(1992), and Fidelity
(2008), and her essays in Just as I Thought
(1998). On the left politically, she was a peace activist, a feminist, and a human rights advocate. Paley was New York's first official state author (1986–88) and, after moving (1990) to Vermont, was its poet laureate (2003–7).
See biography by J. Arcana (1993); G. Bach and B. H. Hall, ed., Conversations with Grace Paley (1997); studies by N. D. Isaacs (1990) and J. Taylor (1990).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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