The Collected Stories

Grace Paley

Farrar, Straus and Giroux



Trade Paperback

400 Pages



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This reissue of Grace Paley’s classic collection—a finalist for the National Book Award—demonstrates her rich use of language as well as her extraordinary insight into and compassion for her characters, moving from the hilarious to the tragic and back again. Whether writing about the love (and conflict) between parents and children or between husband and wife, or about the struggles of aging single mothers or disheartened political organizers to make sense of the world, she brings the same unerring ear for the rhythm of life as it is actually lived.


Praise for The Collected Stories

"Grace Paley makes me weep and laugh—and admire. She is that rare kind of writer, a natural, with a voice like no one else's: funny, sad, lean, modest, energetic, acute."—Susan Sontag

"This collection brings together Paley's three previous volumes of stories: The Little Disturbances of Man, Enormous Changes at the Last Minute, and Later the Same Day. Paley's inventive style and her funny, feisty, irreverent characters create vivid slices of life. Her stories often concern women coping with children alone, as in 'An Interest in Life,' where a woman has an affair after her husband deserts her. A continuing character, Faith, is a divorced woman with children who gets her emotional support from her women friends. In 'Faith in a Tree,' Faith's interests expand to include politics after she witnesses an antiwar demonstration in the park. In 'A Conversation with My Father,' a writer explains that even a story's terrible ending is not final—the characters could still change. This possibility of hope permeates all Paley's stories, creating a rich treasury of unexpected pleasures and revealing truths. Essential."—Patricia Ross, Westerville Public Library, Ohio, Library Journal
"I can't think of another writer who captures the itch of the city, the love between parents and children, or the cutting edge of combat, as well."—Lis Harris, The New York Times Book Review
"Paley is a member of that select breed of writers who become masters of the short story and resist the pressure to produce a novel. This volume gathers together more than 30 years' worth of stellar stories from Paley's best-known collections, The Little Disturbances of Man (1959), Enormous Changes at the Last Minute (1974), and Later the Same Day (1985). This rich compilation presents us with the full spectrum of Paley's voices as well as her observations and interpretations of urban family life and a society that thrives on oppression. An outspoken pacifist, feminist, and self-described 'cooperative anarchist,' Paley can no more keep her political beliefs out of her fiction than a plant can keep from releasing oxygen into the atmosphere, but the story always comes first. Her cast of stubborn, opinionated, earthy, smart, sassy, and robust characters demand it. Paley writes just as effectively from a man's point of view as a woman's, discerning the ironies of everyone's predicaments, but she writes most poignantly about the frustrations of women stuck in the rigidity of gender roles. Paley's people either have moxie, or tremendous endurance. They're frank about lust, angry about money, and always ready for a good argument. These staccato tales of the city capture the essence of the changes each decade has brought, while also dramatizing the continuity of human emotions. And Paley can just knock us flat with the force of her spirited language."—Donna Seaman, Booklist

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Grace Paley divides her time between New York City and Thetford Hill, Vermont.
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  • Grace Paley

  • Grace Paley, born in 1922, is well known as a poet, feminist, writer, and antiwar activist. In 1994, her Collected Stories was a finalist for the National Book Award. She received The Rea Award for the Short Story in 1993 and in 2005, she received the Sarah Josepha Hale Award in recognition for her work in the field of literature and letters.  She died in 2007.
  • Grace Paley Copyright Gentl & Hyers/Arts Counsel, Inc.