Dorothy Allison - Writing

Writing

Themes in Allison's work include class struggle, child and sexual abuse, women, lesbianism, feminism, and family.

Allison's first novel, the semi-autobiographical Bastard Out of Carolina, was published in 1992 and was one of five finalists for the 1992 National Book Award. Graphic in its depiction of Southern poverty, family ties, illegitimacy, child abuse, and rape, Bastard went on to win the Ferro Grumley and Bay Area Reviewers Award for fiction. The novel has been translated into over a dozen languages. A film version, directed by Anjelica Huston, premiered in 1996 on Showtime amid some controversy for its disturbing content. The film was banned by Canada's Maritime Film Classification Board, both theatrically and in video release.

Cavedweller, Allison's second novel, was published in 1998 and became a New York Times bestseller. It won the 1998 Lambda Literary Award for fiction and was a finalist for the Lillian Smith Prize. Cavedweller has been adapted for the stage and screen, most notably in the 2004 film starring Kyra Sedgwick and Kevin Bacon, directed by Lisa Cholodenko.

Her influences include Toni Morrison, Bertha Harris, and Audre Lorde. Allison says The Bluest Eye helped her to write about incest. In 1975, Allison took a class from Harris at Sagaris, a feminist theory institute in Plainfield, Vermont. Harris told her to be "honest and fearless, especially when writing about lesbianism". In the early 1980s, Allison met Lorde at a poetry reading. After reading what would eventually become her short-story "River of Names," Lorde approached her and told her that she simply must write.

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