Prolific Writer J. California Cooper passes away

Prolific Writer J. California Cooper passes away

J. California Cooper, a prolific writer known for her folksy style as well as for stories of women stained by betrayal and violence, is no more.

Cooper’s daughter Paris Williams confirmed on Tuesday that the award-winning writer died last Saturday at age 82. She had been ill for quite some time. She experienced many heart attacks over the past few years.

Living for most of her life in Northern California, Cooper wrote more than a dozen plays until Pulitzer Prize winner Alice Walker suggested that she should switch to short stories and novels. Walker made the suggestion after seeing one of her plays.

Speaking about her mother, Williams said, “Her advice to my mother was you should write short stories or novels because it was easier to get paid. She went home and wrote 12 stories.”

Walker, who had just been bestowed with "The Color Purple" honor, helped Cooper by publishing her book of stories at her own publishing house. In addition, the writer helped Cooper in getting one of her stories published in Essence magazine and the story book took off from there.

Cooper was a very hard worker, who worked a variety of jobs. Her daughter revealed that she worked as a teamster on the Alaska pipeline, a manicurist to pay the bills, and an escrow officer. Writing was something that she always did.

Cooper was bestowed with the prestigious James Baldwin Writing Award as well as the Literary Lion Award by the American Library Association.

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