UC Riverside

Susan Straight

Susan Straight

A Rising Force in the Literary World

When she was eight years old, Susan Straight clambered up the UCR Carillon Tower so far that campus police had to get her down. No force, however, has been able to stop the Riverside native from rising in the literary world.

Straight writes lyrically and convincingly about life in Southern California. She appreciates California's racial diversity, producing students in her small seminars and workshops who are from a variety of walks of life. Her work, and the work produced by her colleagues and her students, allow people to see into the complicated inner life of California.

Her work includes six novels, three children’s books and many works of short fiction, essays and articles. Her novel A Million Nightingales (2006) was a San Francisco Chronicle bestseller and a finalist for the 2006 Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the 2006 Southern California Booksellers’ Award. Her other novels include, Aquaboogie (1990), I Been In Sorrow’s Kitchen and Licked Out All The Pots (1992), which was named one of the best novels of 1992 by both USA Today and Publisher’s Weekly, as well as named a Notable Book by the New York Times, Blacker Than a Thousand Midnights (1994), The Gettin Place (1996) and Highwire Moon (2001).

She has gone on to win a Guggenheim Fellowship; the California Book Prize; a Pushcart Prize; the O. Henry Prize; the Lannan Literary Award for Fiction; and the 2007 O. Henry Prize for her short story “El Ojo De Agua.”

Straight, the mother of three girls and a full professor at UCR, is one of the stars at the campus of the University of California system offering an undergraduate major in creative writing. "It's a magnet for the best writers," said Straight, who has helped organize UCR's Writer's Week -- which draws acclaimed writers from all over the world to read their work.

Visit Professor Susan Straight's personal website.

Watch a video of Straight talking about writing fiction.

Read about Straight earning the Edgar Award.

Read more about Straight earning the Lannan Literary Award.

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