Doris Lessing and Barbara Park. One a Nobel Prize-winning novelist, the other a best-selling author of children’s books. We’re sad to report that both of them have gone to that great book store in the sky.
Lessing was the author of over 50 novels, including The Golden Notebook and The Grass is Singing. Hailed by many as a feminist icon, the Swedish Institute referred to her as “that epicist of the female experience, who with scepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilisation to scrutiny” upon awarding her the Nobel Prize for Literature on 2007. Via The Guardian:
“…she travelled back to West Hampstead, north London, by taxi, carrying heavy bags of shopping, to find the doorstep besieged by reporters and camera crews. ‘Oh Christ,’ she said, on learning that their excitement was because at 88 she had just become the oldest author to win the Nobel prize in literature. Only the 11th woman to win the honour, she had beaten that year’s favourite, the American author Philip Roth.
Pausing rather crossly on her front path, she said ‘one can get more excited’, and went on to observe that since she had already won all the other prizes in Europe, this was ‘a royal flush’.
Later she remarked: ‘I’m 88 years old and they can’t give the Nobel to someone who’s dead, so I think they were probably thinking they’d probably better give it to me now before I’ve popped off.’
Keeping in Lessing’s vein of sarcasm: They had a few years to spare. She was 94.
Barbara Park worked in quite a different literary genre; she’s well-known known to children, parents, teachers, librarians, former bookstore employees (*raises hand*), and more as the author of the much-loved Junie B. Jones series of children’s books. Via the Associated Press:
“[Park’s publisher, Random House Books] says Park’s stories of the smart-mouthed young girl sold more than 55 million copies just in North America. She wrote dozens of books and received numerous awards, although parents and educators occasionally worried that Junie was a bad influence on her young fans.”
Sounds like my kind of series.
Park was only 66 when she passed away on Friday following a long battle with ovarian cancer. The author was one of the co-founders of Sisters in Survival, a non-profit geared toward helping ovarian cancer patients “who are being forced to settle for less-than-optimal care because they do not have the resources to pay. Less-than-optimal care is deemed unacceptable to the Sisters in Survival foundation, and it is our ultimate goal that no woman will receive otherwise.”
Two very different authors. Two very different bodies of work. They will both be missed.