Sara Paretsky

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Sara Paretsky
Born (1947-06-08) June 8, 1947 (age 68)
Ames, Iowa
Occupation Novelist
Nationality American
Ethnicity Jewish[1]
Education University of Kansas, Lawrence, BA in political science (summa cum laude) 1967
University of Chicago, M.B.A. 1977
University of Chicago, PhD in history 1977
Genre Crime fiction
Spouse Courtney Wright, m. 1976
Children 3[3]
Relatives David (father), Mary (mother)

Sara Paretsky (born June 8, 1947) is an American author of detective fiction, best known for her novels focused on the female protagonist V.I. Warshawski.

Life and career[edit]

Paretsky was born in Ames, Iowa. Her father was a microbiologist and moved the family to Kansas in 1951 after taking a job at the University of Kansas, where Paretsky eventually graduated. Being jewish, the family was limited in where they could live due to segregated zoning laws at the time, and they ended up renting an old farm house. Her relationship with her parents was strained; her mother was an alcoholic and her father was a harsh disciplinarian.[4]

After obtaining a Bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Kansas, she did community service work on the south side of Chicago in 1966 and returned in 1968 to work there. She ultimately completed a Ph.D. in history at the University of Chicago; her dissertation was entitled "The Breakdown of Moral Philosophy in New England Before the Civil War". She also earned an MBA from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business.

Her husband, Courtenay Wright, is a professor of physics at the University of Chicago; the two have been together since 1970. She is an alumna of the Ragdale Foundation.[5]

She was to appear in an amateur light opera production in 2011.[2]

The protagonist of all but two of Paretsky's novels is V.I. Warshawski, a female private investigator. In 1991 the film V.I. Warshawski was released starring Kathleen Turner; the lead character came from Paretsky, but the film is not based on a particular novel.[6]

Paretsky is credited with transforming the role and image of women in the crime novel.[7] The Winter 2007 issue of Clues: A Journal of Detection is devoted to her work.[8] She is also considered the founding mother of Sisters in Crime, an organization that supports and promotes women in the mystery field.[9]



Short story collections[edit]


  • Photo Finish (2000) ISBN 978-1-101-53751-0
  • V.I. x 2 (2002) includes short stories 'Photo Finish' & 'Publicity Stunts'
  • V.I. x 3 (2011) includes both stories from V.I. x 2 and 'A Family Sunday in the Park' ISBN 9781257416448


  • Case Studies in Alternative Education. Chicago Center for New Schools, 1975 .
  • Writing in an Age of Silence (2007) ISBN 978-1-84467-122-9

As editor[edit]

  • Eye of a Woman (short stories). New York, Delacorte Press, 1990 ; as A Woman's Eye: New Stories by the Best Women Crime Writers, London, Virago, 1991
  • Women on the Case (1997) ISBN 978-0-440-22325-2; as Woman's Other Eye, London, Virago, 1996
  • Sisters on the Case (2007) ISBN 978-0-451-22239-8

Awards and recognition[edit]


  1. ^ Goldenberg, Suzanne (March 21, 2008). "Interview: Author Sara Paretsky | Life and style". The Guardian. Retrieved November 22, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b "REVELS TO PERFORM 'THE BALLAD OF SCAVENGER GULCH' ON JAN. 28–29" (fee, via Fairfax County Public Library). States News Service. Jan 25, 2011. Gale Document Number: GALE|A247644165. Retrieved Nov 22, 2011.  Gale Biography In Context.
  3. ^ "Sara Paretsky". St. James Guide to Crime & Mystery Writers (fee, via Fairfax County Public Library). Gale. 1996. Gale Document Number: GALE|K2406000432. Retrieved November 22, 2011.  Gale Biography In Context.
  4. ^ Sarah Crown, Sara Paretsky interview: ‘I start each VI Warshawski book convinced I can’t do it’, The Guardian, 7 August 2015.
  5. ^ "Ragdale Alumni: Writers – Fiction – O-Z". Ragdale Foundation website. 2010. Retrieved February 15, 2010. 
  6. ^ Maslin, Janet (26 July 1991). "V.I. Warshawski". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-10-04. 
  7. ^ Martin, Nora (1996). ""In the business of believing women's stories": Feminism through detective fiction (Sara Paretsky, Sue Grafton)" (M.A. thesis) Wilfrid Laurier University
  8. ^ "Clues: A Journal of Detection". Retrieved March 5, 2012. 
  9. ^ Roberts, Lora. "A History of Sisters in Crime". Retrieved 28 November 2012. 
  10. ^ a b "Bouchercon World Mystery Convention : Anthony Awards Nominees". October 2, 2003. Retrieved March 5, 2012. 
  11. ^ a b "Bouchercon World Mystery Convention : Anthony Awards and History". Retrieved March 5, 2012. 

External links[edit]