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Cover of Susan Sontag's REGARDING THE PAIN OF OTHERS
4.04.03
Arts and Culture:
Susan Sontag: Biography and Bibliography
More on This Story:
One of America's best-known and most admired writers, Susan Sontag was born in New York City in 1933, grew up in Tucson, Arizona, and attended high school in Los Angeles. She received her B.A. from the College of the University of Chicago and did graduate work in philosophy, literature, and theology at Harvard University and Saint Anne's College, Oxford.

Her books include four novels, THE BENEFACTOR, DEATH KIT, THE VOLCANO LOVER, and IN AMERICA; a collection of short stories, I, ETCETERA; a play, ALICE IN BED; and six works of nonfiction, starting with AGAINST INTERPRETATION and including ON PHOTOGRAPHY and ILLNESS AS METAPHOR. In 1982, Farrar, Straus and Giroux published A SUSAN SONTAG READER, in 2001, WHERE THE STRESS FALLS a collection of forty-one essays. STYLES OF RADICAL WILL, another essay collected appeared in 2002.

Her stories and essays have appeared in THE NEW YORKER, THE NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS, THE TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT, ART IN AMERICA, ANTAEUS, PARNASSUS, THE THREEPENNY REVIEW, THE NATION, GRANTA, and many other magazines here and abroad. Her much anthologized story "The Way We Live Now" (1987) was chosen for inclusion in THE BEST AMERICAN SHORT STORIES OF THE EIGHTIES and, more recently, in THE BEST AMERICAN SHORT STORIES OF THE CENTURY, edited by John Updike.

Her books are translated into twenty-six languages. Ms. Sontag has written and directed four feature-length films: DUET FOR CANNIBALS (1969) and BROTHER CARL (1971), both in Sweden; PROMISED LANDS (1974), made in Israel during the war of October 1973; and UNGUIDED TOUR (1983), from her short story of the same name, made in Italy. Her play ALICE IN BED has had many productions in the United States, Mexico, Germany, and Holland. A more recent play, Lady from the Sea, has been produced in Italy, France, Switzerland, and Korea.

Ms. Sontag has also directed plays in the United States and Europe; her most recent theater work was a staging of Beckett's WAITING FOR GODOT in the summer of 1993 in besieged Sarajevo, where she spent much of the time between early 1993 and 1996 and was made an honorary citizen of the city.

A human rights activist for more than two decades, Ms. Sontag served from 1987 to 1989 as president of the American Center of PEN, the international writers' organization dedicated to freedom of expression and the advancement of literature, from which platform she led a number of campaigns on behalf of persecuted and imprisoned writers.

Among Ms. Sontag's many honors are the 2001 Jerusalem Prize, the National Book Award for In America (2000), and the National Book Critics Circle Award for ON PHOTOGRAPHY (1978). In 1992 she received the Malaparte Prize in Italy, and in 1999 she was named a Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government (she had been named an Officier in the same order in 1984). Between 1990 and 1995 she was a MacArthur Fellow. Ms. Sontag lives in New York City. She is at work on another collection of short fiction.

You can also read more about Ms. Sontag's life and views by reading her conversation with Bill Moyers an by visiting her Web site, which provides excerpts from all her books. You can sample Sontag's work as a critic by visiting THE NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS' Sontag page, which offers dozens of her essays dating between 1963 and 2003.

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