J. California Cooper

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J. California Cooper
J. California Cooper.jpg
Born Joan Cooper
(1931-11-10)November 10, 1931
Berkeley, California, U.S.
Died September 20, 2014(2014-09-20) (aged 82)
Seattle, Washington, U.S.
Nationality American
Genres playwright, short stories
Notable awards 1989 American Book Award

Joan Cooper (November 10, 1931, Berkeley, California – September 20, 2014, Seattle, Washington), known by her pen name, J. California Cooper, was an American playwright and author. She wrote 17 plays and the winner of Black Playwright of the Year in 1978.

Alice Walker has said of Cooper:

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.[1]

It was at the encouragement of Walker that Cooper turned from her claim to fame in the theater and started writing short stories. Her first collection was titled A Piece of Mine, published in 1984. Two other story collections followed, before the release of her first novel, Family, in 1991. Cooper wrote Funny Valentines, which later was turned into a 1999 TV movie starring Alfre Woodard and Loretta Devine.[2]

She died in Seattle, Washington in 2014 at the age of 82 from undisclosed causes.[3][4][5]


  • 1984: A Piece of Mine
  • 1986: Homemade Love, 1989 American Book Award winner[6]
  • 1987: Some Soul to Keep
  • 1991: Family
  • 1991: The Matter Is Life
  • 1994: In Search of Satisfaction
  • 1996: Some Love, Some Pain, Some Time: Stories
  • 1998: The Wake of the Wind
  • 2001: The Future Has a Past
  • 2003: Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife (contributor), edited by Carleen Brice
  • 2004: Some People, Some Other Place
  • 2006: Wild Stars Seeking Midnight Suns: Stories
  • 2009: Life is Short but Wide

See also[edit]


  1. ^ African American Literature Book Club
  2. ^ Filmography for J. California Cooper, nytimes.com; accessed October 5, 2014.
  3. ^ "Writer J. California Cooper Dies at 82". Ebony. September 22, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Obituary: J. (Joan) California Cooper". 2014-09-22. Retrieved 2014-09-23. 
  5. ^ Matt Schudel (September 27, 2014). "J. California Cooper, author of tales of African American life, dies at 82". The Washington Post. 
  6. ^ American Booksellers Association (2013). "The American Book Awards / Before Columbus Foundation [1980–2012]". BookWeb. Archived from the original on March 13, 2013. Retrieved September 25, 2013. 1989 [...] Homemade Love, J. California Cooper 

External links[edit]