Another literary giant has left us, leaving behind a great body of work and Black women centered stories. Author J. California Cooper, best known for her short stories about love, heartbreak and everything in between, has died.
Cooper, 82, passed away peacefully, surrounded by family members by her side in Seattle on Sunday. Her daughter Paris Williams was there when she died.
Cooper, a Berkley-native authored six short story collections including A Piece of Mine, Homemade Love (winner of the 1989 American Book Award), Some Soul to Keep, The Matter is Life, Some Love, Some Pain, Sometime, and Wild Stars Seeking Midnight Suns. She also wrote 17 plays and two novels. For her play Strangers, Cooper won the 1978 Black Playwright Award. Her short story Funny Valentine was turned into a 1999 TV movie.
She was writing plays when the writer Alice Walker encouraged her to try short stories. Her work received high praise in The Times, where reviewer Carolyn See found Cooper’s stories “jazzy, clubby, folksy, small towny, populist, perky, and if you don’t like them, you must be in an absolutely unshakable bad mood.”
We are thankful for the beautiful, moving and memorable work Cooper left behind, for she was a masterful storyteller whose work inspired women around the globe. Cooper’s words soothed souls, dried tears, and brought laughs and she leaves us with an everlasting legacy.
Check out this wonderful tribute featured at EBONY by writer Josie Pickens about Cooper’s impact on her life.