You are here

Cliff, Michelle

Born in Kingston, Jamaica and raised in New York, Michelle Cliff was a Jamaican-American writer whose short stories, novels, and essays explored race, gender, sexuality, and post-colonialism. She received her BA in European History from Warner College and her Master of Philosophy at the Warburg Institute. Cliff worked at Time-Life Books, W.W. Norton, and held positions at various colleges. Cliff died in 2016 at the age of 69, just two years after her partner, Adrienne Rich, passed away.

Books:

Claiming an Identity They Taught Me to Despise. Watertown: Persephone Press, 1980.
Abeng: A Novel. Trumansburg: Crossing Press, 1984.
The Land of Look Behind: Prose and Poetry. Ithaca: Firebrand Books, 1985.
No Telephone to Heaven. New York: Dutton, 1987.
Bodies of Water. New York: Dutton, 1990.
Free Enterprise. New York: Dutton, 1993.
The Store of a Million Items: Stories. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1998.
If I Could Write This in Fire. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008.
Into the Interior. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2010.
Everything is Now: New and Collected Stories. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2009.

Articles:
"Object Into Subject: Some thoughts on the Work of Black Women Artists." Heresies. 1983.
"Clare Savage as a Crossroads Character." Caribbean Women Writers: Essays from the First International Conference. 1990.
"History as Fiction, Fiction as History." Ploughshares 20, no. 2/3 (1994): 196-202.
"Colonial Girl: and What Would it be Like." Sex and the Citizen: Interrogating the Caribbean. 2011.

Anthologies/Encyclopedias/Journals:

“Notes on Speechlessness.” Sinister Wisdom, no. 5. 1978.
“Anonymity and the Denial of the Self.” Sinister Wisdom, no. 9, 1979.
“A Review of Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Joan Gibbs.” Sinister Wisdom, no. 13, 1980.
“Notes on a Magazine.” Sinister Wisdom, no. 17, 1981.
“Marking Soul, Creating Alchemy: a review of This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Colour.” Sinister Wisdom, no. 19, 1982.
“If I could Write this in Fire, I would Write this in Fire” in Home Girls: A Black Feminist Anthology, edited by Barbara Smith. New York: Kitchen Table – Women of Color Press, 1983.
“Sister/Outsider: Some Thoughts on Simone Weil” in Between Women: Biographers, Novelists, Critics, Teachers, and Artists Write About Their Work on Women, edited by Carol Ascher, Louise A. DeSalvo, and Sara Ruddick. Boston: Beacon Press, 1984.
“A Journey Into Speech; If I could Write this in Fire, I would Write This in Fire” in Multi-Cultural Literacy, edited by Rick Simonson and Scott Walker. Saint Paul: Graywolf Press, 1988.
“Clare Savage as a Crossroads Character” in Caribbean Women Writers: Essays from the First International Conference, edited by Selwyn Reginald Cudjoe. Wellesley: Calaloux Publications, 1990.
“Object into Subject: Some Thoughts on the work of Black Women Artists” in Making Face, Making Soul = Haciendo Caras: Creative and Critical Perspectives by Feminists of Color, edited by Gloria Anzaldúa. San Francisco: Aunt Lute Foundation Books, 1990.
“Columba” in Green Cane and Juicy Flotsam: Short Stories by Caribbean Women, edited by Carmen C Esteves and Lizabeth Paravisini-Gebert. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1991.
“Screen Memory” in Calling the Wind: Twentieth Century African-American Short Stories, edited by Clarence Major. New York: HarperPerennial, 1993.
“A History of Costume” in The Oxford Book of Women’s Writing in the United States, edited by Linda Wagner-Martin and Cathy N. Davidson, 301-304. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995.
“Columba” in Ancestral House: The Black Short Story in the Americas and Europe, edited by Charles H Rowell. Boulder: Westview Press, 1995.
“Within the Veil; Columba” in The Norton Anthology of African American Literature, edited by Henry Louis Gates Nellie Y. McKay. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1996. (also 1997, 2004)
“Transactions” in The Best American Short Stories, 1997: Selected from U.S. and Canadian Magazines, edited by Annie Proulx and Katrina Kenison. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
“Excerpt from Abeng” in The Whistling Bird: Women Writers of the Caribbean, edited by Elaine Campbell and Pierrette M Frickey. Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1998.
“Ecce Homo” in Black Like Us: A Century of Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual African American Fiction 2000, edited by Devon W. Carbado, Dwight A McBride, Donald Weise, and Evelyn C White. San Francisco: Cleis Press, 2002.
“Women’s Work” in Poems from the Women’s Movement, edited by Honor Moore. New York: Library of America, 2009.

Critical Work about Cliff:
Smith, Sidonie and Julia Watson. “Of Mangoes and Maroons: Language, History, and the Multicultural Subject of Michelle Cliff’s Abeng” in De/Colonizing the Subject: The Politics of Gender in Women’s Autobiography. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1992.
Aegerter, Lindsay Pentolfe. "Michelle Cliff and the Paradox of Privilege." College English 59, no. 8 (1997): 898-915. doi:10.2307/378298.
Chancy, Myriam J. A. “Remembering Ourselves: The Power of the Erotic in Works by Audre Lorde, Rosa Guy, and Michelle Cliff; Exile, Resistance, Home: Retelling History in the Writings of Michelle Cliff and Marie Chauvet” in Searching for Safe Spaces: Afro-Caribbean Women Writers in Exile. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1997.
Rody, Caroline. “Decolonizing Jamaica’s Daughter: Learning History in the Novels of Michelle Cliff” in The Daughter’s Return: African-American and Caribbean Women’s Fictions of History. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.
Ilmonen, Kaisa. “Creolizing the Queer: Close Encounters of Race and Sexuality in the Novels of Michelle Cliff.” Close Encounters of an Other Kind: New Perspectives on Race, Ethnicity and American Studies, 2005.
Fenton, Jocelyn Stitt. “Gendered Legacies of Romantic Nationalism in the Works of Michelle Cliff.” Small Axe: A Journal of Criticism, no. 24 (2007): 52-72.
Maisier, Veronique. “Representations of History in Michelle Cliff’s and Patrick Chamoiseau’s Novels.” Journal of West Indian Literature vol. 20, no. 1 (2011). 51-69.

Book Reviews of Cliff's Work:
Gomez, Jewelle. "Coming of Age in Jamaica." The Women's Review of Books 1, no. 8 (1984): 5-6. doi:10.2307/4019482.
Smilowitz, Erika J. "Tales of the Caribbean." The Women's Review of Books 5, no. 2 (1987): 13-14. doi:10.2307/4020090.
Scales-Trent, Judy. "Produced and Abandoned." The Women's Review of Books 7, no. 12 (1990): 15. doi:10.2307/4020846.
McDowell, Deborah. "Taking Liberties with History." The Women's Review of Books 11, no. 10/11 (1994): 32-33. doi:10.2307/4021882.

Interviews:
Cliff, Michelle, Tacie Dejanikus, and Loie Hayes. "Interview: Claiming an Identity: An Interview with Michelle Cliff." Off Our Backs 11, no. 6 (1981): 18-20. http://www.jstor.org/stable/25793758.
Schwartz, Meryl F., and Michelle Cliff. "An Interview with Michelle Cliff." Contemporary Literature 34, no. 4 (1993): 595-619. doi:10.2307/1208803.
Judith Raiskin, and Michelle Cliff. "The Art of History: An Interview with Michelle Cliff." The Kenyon Review 15, no. 1 (1993): 57-71. http://www.jstor.org/stable/4336802.
Adisa, Opal Palmer. "Journey into Speech-A Writer between Two Worlds: An Interview with Michelle Cliff." African American Review 28, no. 2 (1994): 273-81. doi:10.2307/3041999.

Biography:
Lindfors, Bernth and Reinhard Sander. “Michelle Cliff” in Twentieth-Century Caribbean and Black African Writers. Detroit: Gale Research, 1996.
Novak, Terry “Michelle Cliff” in Contemporary African American Novelists: A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook, edited by Emmanuel S Nelson. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1999.
Hogeland, Lisa Maria and Mary Klages“Michelle Cliff 1946” in The Aunt Lute Anthology of U.S. Women Writers, edited by Lisa Maria Hogeland and Mary Klages. Edition: First Edition, 2004.
Basu, Lopamudra “Michelle Cliff” in Encyclopedia of African American Women Writers, edited by Yolanda Williams Page. Westport: Greenwood Press, 2007.

Archives:
Michelle Cliff papers, 1982-1994. MS 3242. Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, The University of Georgia Libraries.

Bibliography Compiled by Zane DeZeeuw. May 2017