There is still some time in Women’s History Month to fit in some great reads from inspiring and important American writers. Here are just five of many notable women writers to choose from.
Lorraine Hansberry: Best known for her play “A Raisin in the Sun,” Hansberry was the first Black female author to have a play performed on Broadway. She was the first African American dramatist and the fifth woman to win a New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Play, which she received at the age of 29, making her the youngest playwright to receive the award as well. Earlier in her careerm she wrote about social issues alongside W.E.B. Du Bois and publisher Paul Robeson for the Black newspaper Freedom. She is the author of several other essays and plays, including “On Summer,” “The Drinking Gourd,” “To Be Young, Gifted and Black: Lorraine Hansberry in Her Own Words,” and “The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window,” which ran 101 performances on Broadway until it closed the night of Hansberry’s death at age 34.
Sandra Cisneros: Best known for her debut novel, “The House on Mango Street,” the Chicana writer and poet is a winner of the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, National Medal of Arts, American Book Award and many other awards and honors. “The House on Mango Street” (1983) reflected the memories of her girlhood growing up in Chicago with her working-class Mexican American family, in which she was the only sister to six brothers. Her subsequent short story collection, “Woman Hollering Creek and other Stories,” (1991) also went on to be widely popularly and again explored themes of economic inequality and living a hybrid life of both Mexican and Anglo American cultures.
Jhumpa Lahiri: Winner of the the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the PEN/Hemingway Award for her debut collection of short stories, “Interpreter of Maladies” (1999), Lahiri often writes stories that explore the experiences and struggles of Indians and Indian immigrants such as generational tension, culture expectations surrounding marriage, the importance of food and the life-changing experience of leaving one’s home country. Her second story collection, “Unaccustomed Earth,” won the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. She has gone on to write books of essays and several novels and has recently published several works in Italian, such as “Dove mi trovo.”
Jean Kerr: Kerr was an Irish American playwright and author known for her best-selling collection of humorous essays “Please Don’t Eat the Daisies” (1957). The essays discuss her experiences of raising four boys and transitioning from the city dwelling to suburban living. Her play “King of Heart” opened on Broadway in 1954 and went on to win a Tony Award. Her comedy “Mary, Mary,” opened on Broadway in 1961 and ran for 1,572 performances.
Susan Sontag: Sontag was a writer, political activist, filmmaker and teacher who is best known for her essays, such as “Notes on ‘Camp’” (1964), “Against Interpretation” (1966),” and “Illness as Metaphor” (1978). She also has several well-known fictional works, such as “The Way We Live Now” (1986), and “The Volcano Lover” (1992). She was born to Jewish parents, both of Polish and Lithuanian descent. Many of her work focuses on human rights and analyzes American life and pop culture, as well challenges conventional critical theory. She won the National Book Critics Circle Award for “On Photography” in 1977 and won the National Book Award for “In America” in 2000.
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