From the Archives: Novelist Carolyn See wins a Guggenheim Fellowship

Author Carolyn See speaks at American Book Association convention in L.A. in 1995.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Editor’s note: Novelist Carolyn See died July 13, 2016 at the age of 82. The following is an article from 1989.

Carolyn See, novelist and since 1981 a regular book reviewer for The Times, has won a Guggenheim Fellowship for fiction.

The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation awards fellowships annually to artists, scholars and scientists “on the basis of unusually distinguished achievement in the past and exceptional promise for future accomplishment.” This year’s 198 winners, chosen from among 3,144 applicants, will receive awards totaling $5,251,000, according to an announcement by foundation president Joel Connarroe in New York earlier this week.


Seven other fiction fellows have been named: Robert Boswell, David H. Bradley, Clyde Edgerton, David Leavitt, Sue Miller, Robert Olmstead and Stephen Wright. And eight poetry fellows: Jonathan Galassi, Laura Jensen, August Kleinzahler, Li-Young Lee, David Lehman, Heather McHugh, Michael Palmer and Franz Wright.

Carolyn See’s novels include: “The Rest Is Done With Mirrors” (1970), a story of UCLA and the Rand Corp.; “Mothers, Daughters” (1977), a morose novel of California divorce; “Rhine Maidens” (1980), a perky Los Angeles fable of happiness against the odds; and “Golden Days” (1986), a novel about thinking the unthinkable (nuclear war) and surviving it in Topanga Canyon.

See, who once told an interviewer that she owns “a coyote and an acre of unarable land,” lives in Topanga Canyon with Clara Sturak, one of her two daughters, and John J. Espey, professor emeritus of English at UCLA. Next fall, Espey and she will publish (at Capra Press, Santa Barbara) an education memoir orBildungserinnerung on his experiences as a Rhodes scholar at Oxford and hers as a graduate student in English at UCLA.

She is a board member of the California Arts Council and the National Book Critics Circle; a member of the Writers Guild of America; and adjunct professor of English at UCLA. Asked how she felt about winning the fellowship, perhaps the most prestigious of its kind in American letters, See broke into song: “For I’m a Guggenheim Fellow! For I’m a Guggenheim Fellow!”