Ah, Grace Paley. If you know her, you love her. If you don’t know her, you’re about to love her. Grace Paley, IMHO, was one of the greatest writers of the 20th century and a master of the short story–doing more in a few pages than many writers can accomplish in entire tomes. Born in 1922 to Jewish Russian immigrants, Paley grew up in the Bronx and used her sharp ear to recreate voices on the page that weren’t often heard in popular fiction–from women unhappy in their domestic roles to immigrants populating the tenements of New York City.
But Paley wasn’t only devoted to the craft of fiction; she was a staunch political activist and feminist, committed to championing the lives of the marginalized and fighting for peace and social justice. As Alexandra Schwartz wrote in the New Yorker earlier this year, “There’s a case to be made that Grace Paley was first and foremost an antinuclear, antiwar, antiracist feminist activist who managed, in her spare time, to become one of the truly original voices of American fiction in the later twentieth century.”
It’s no wonder think pieces aplenty have been popping up about Grace Paley this year, even though she died in 2007. Her spirit and endless dedication to the good fight are just what we need in this political climate, when the health and humanity of so many lives are threatened by politicians who only value a tiny percentage of our population (mostly, themselves). With that in mind, read on for seven powerful quotes from Grace Paley to get you motivated for action. And then read her collected stories–all of them. I promise you’ll thank me later.
1. “Let us go forth with fear and courage and rage to save the world.”
2. “If you want to do things, do things.”
3. “I see women as oppressed, but I don’t see them as victims; I see them rising all the time. I see them as very strong.”
4. “I write for the still, small possibility of justice.”
5. “People will sometimes say, ‘Why don’t you write more politics?’ And I have to explain to them that writing the lives of women IS politics.”
6. “Women should stick together. Didn’t you learn anything yet?”
7. “The only recognizable feature of hope is action.”
And if you’re feeling super inspired, you can always make like Alma contributor T Kira Madden and make your love permanent:
— T Kira Madden (@TKMadden) July 13, 2017