Meredith Tax issued the following statement this afternoon about the death of Grace Paley.

August 23, 2007, New York, New YorkGrace was one of my closest friends. There are probably hundreds of people who could say this because Grace had the gift of intimacy. She not only made everyone she met feel she valued them; she really did value them.

Grace and I became close during the PEN Congress of 1986, during which we organized a meeting to protest the inadequate number of women speakers, which took over the ballroom of the Essex House Hotel and led to the formation of a Women’s Committee in PEN American Center. Grace and I were co chairs of that committee until she moved to Vermont and she became Chair of Women’s WORLD when we started it in 1994.

Grace was the kindest and most generous person I have ever known. This is unusual in a writer, especially one of her quality, because writers tend to husband their inner resources for their work, but Grace had so many inner resources that she could afford to be generous. She gave unstinting love to her family and friends, took speaking engagements at any whistlestop, often without pay, organized antiwar and antinuclear and women’s demonstrations, worked endlessly against nuclear armaments, did draft counseling, protested on behalf of the environment, free expression, and a just peace between Israel and Palestine.

Despite her devotion to causes where stereotyped language is the norm, she always spoke in her own voice, candid, idiosyncratic, Bronx-inflected, deeply personal and rooted in family experience. More than anything, I will miss the sound of her voice.

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