Friday, January 1, 2010

Author of the Month - J. California Cooper



The people have spoken and it turns out that my favorite author is admired by several of my fellow readers. Why do I love J. California Cooper so much? When I read her stories I can hear the voice of her characters. I feel like I'm sitting at the feet of my grandmother listening to her spin a tale. Simply put, J. California Cooper's stories feel like home.

"Her style is deceptively simple and direct, and the vale of tears in which her characters reside is never so deep that a rich chuckle at a foolish person's foolishness cannot be heard." —Alice Walker

"Cooper's stories beckon. It's as if she is patting the seat next to her, enticing us to come sit and listen as she tells complex tales about women, often poor women, chasing dreams of love, a house, and a family." — Ms.

"Cooper is humorous, wise, self-deprecating, and always expressive...her stories are about simple truths told with great energy that makes them shine." —Kirkus Reviews

"Cooper knows how to 'talk' her stories to us, as though each of them is told by a kindly and concerned friend. The sound of them is lovely, memorable, haunting." —San Francisco Chronicle

J. California Cooper first found acclaim as a playwright. The author of seventeen plays, she was named Black Playwright of the Year in 1978. It was through her work in the theater that she caught the attention of acclaimed poet and novelist Alice Walker. Encouraged by Walker to turn her popular storytelling skills to fiction, Cooper wrote her first collection of short stories, A Piece of Mine, in 1984. Called "rich in wisdom and insight" and "a book that's worth reading," A Piece of Mine introduced Cooper's trademark style: her intimate and energetic narration, sympathetic yet sometimes troubled characters, and the profound moral messages that underlie seemingly simple stories.

If you've never read any of her work, you are truly missing out on some kind of wonderful.
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