3: Interview (1992) and audio (1998) excerpts, Grace Paley’s voice.
Grace Paley was admired for the voices she created for her characters. The people in Paley’s stories speak with distinct and believable voices that are intimately connected to their time, place, and culture. In this excerpt from an interview with the literary journal Paris Review, Paley indicates that her writing style has been influenced by the Russian Jewish culture in which she was raised. The short audio clip of the author reading “The Loudest Voice” shows evidence of this influence.
Suggested activity: Read the Paris Review excerpt and listen to the audio clip. Ask students to listen for examples of how Paley’s writing might be influenced by the language and “music” of her culture. Then listen to the clip again, this time for examples of how Paley’s writing is specifically American. In both cases, have students point to specific word choices and sentence structures. This may lead to a broader discussion of how multiculturalism can influence and be depicted through fiction.
Sources: Jonathan Dee, Barbara Jones, and Larissa MacFarquhar, “Grace Paley, The Art of Fiction No. 131,” Paris Review, No. 124, Fall 1992, accessed December 4, 2015, http://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/2028/the-art-of-fiction-no-131-grace-paley.
Grace Paley, The Loudest Voice, Vermont Public Radio, 1998, MP3, accessed December 4, 2015, http://www.vpr.net/news_detail/86644/vt-edition-grace-paley-reads-loudest-voice/.