Sara Paretsky

Sara Paretsky is a Chicago-based essayist, short story writer and novelist.

Selected Works:

Indemnity Only, Deadlock, Blood Shot, Blacklist, Fire Sale, Body Work, Breakdown


1987 Ms. magazine’s Woman of the Year Award, 2007 National Book Critics Circle Award finalist (Writing in an Age of Silence)

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Which one or two American books or plays would you yourself recommend to the foreign leaders?

The Virginian and Huckleberry Finn probably sum up the vision Americans like to have of themselves, but I think a different, fuller picture could be drawn, of America and of Chicago, by reading Gwendolyn Brooks. Bronzeville is a good place to start, although it is her early work. Maya Angelou speaks to contemporary readers in a powerful and authentic voice.

Who in your childhood—for example, parent or teacher—encouraged you to read books, and which one or two books do you remember most fondly?

My older brother taught me to read when I was four. My mother was a constant reader; to us, to herself, and the habit became central to all of my siblings and myself as we grew up. The Laura Ingalls Wilder series and Little Women were my hands-down childhood favorites.

Which books by writers of the other G8 countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom) have been most important to you as a writer?

Ratushinskaya's Grey is the Color of Hope, the whole oeuvres of Dickens, Eliot, Gaskell and Austen, and Democracy in America. David Mitchell and Hilary Mantel are two contemporary writers I greatly admire. I like Daniel Pennac's quirky voice. Margaret Atwood, Carol Shields, and Howard Engel.


What is the Power of the Word Exhibit?

Power of the Word: Leaders, Readers and Writers is the first online exhibition of The American Writers Museum. As world leaders gather in the U.S. this spring, The American Writers Museum Foundation is inviting American writers and readers to explore the power of the word and join in a discussion of how American books can help readers in other parts of the world better understand our culture.

Leaders Gallery

An exploration into what some of the world’s most powerful leaders like to read, and how reading has influenced them.

Writers Gallery

American writers comment on their early experiences with reading and name the books they think world leaders should read in order to better understand American culture.

Readers Gallery

An interactive, open forum where readers are invited to join the discussion by answering the question: Which American works of literature do you think leaders from other nations should read in order to gain a better understanding of America?

We would like to thank our exhibit sponsors for their generous support:


What is The American Writers Museum?

The mission of The American Writers Museum Foundation is to establish the first national museum in the United States dedicated to engaging the public in celebrating American writers and exploring their influence on our history, our identity, our culture and our daily lives. Learn more at