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Paula Fox (1923 - 2017)

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Paula Fox (1923 - 2017)

Paula Fox, whose children’s books won numerous awards, died Wednesday, March 1, 2017, in Brooklyn, according to multiple news sources. She was 93.

Fox's daughter, Linda Carroll, told The Associated Press that her mother had been in declining health.

Fox’s children’s book “The Slave Dancer” won the 1974 Newbery Medal. Based on historical accounts, it tells the tale of a white 13-year-old boy who must play a pipe while slaves are forced to dance upon a slave ship to keep their strength up. She was awarded the Hans Christian Andersen Award, the highest international award for children’s literature, in 1978.


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In addition to her children’s books, she wrote for adults. Her 1970 novel, “Desperate Characters,” was adapted into a film starring Shirley MacLaine and Kenneth Mars, released the following year. Much of her adult work went out of print until novelist Jonathan Franzen began championing her as one of the great postwar novelists during the 1990s.

In 1997, she sustained a severe brain injury during a mugging in Jerusalem. Following her injury, she turned her attention away from lengthy fiction and toward shorter works and her memoirs.

She documented her eventful childhood in her 2001 memoir, “Borrowed Finery.” She was born April 22, 1923, in New York City, and her parents, screenwriters Paul and Elsie Fox, abandoned her to a series of relatives and other caretakers. She spent time growing up in New York City, Cuba, Florida, and Canada.

She followed that memoir up with one about her young womanhood living in postwar Europe in “The Coldest Winter: A Stringer in Liberated Europe” (2005).

Fox began writing her first novel, “Poor George,” in the 1940s while she was a teacher and tutor for troubled children. Published in 1967, it was well-reviewed but sold poorly. Like many of her later books, its characters struggled to find a place and meaning in a chaotic world.

Fox had a daughter, the author, marriage counselor, and therapist Linda Carroll, whom she gave up for adoption. Carroll is the mother of musician and actress Courtney Love. Carroll reconnected with her birth mother in middle age.

In addition to Carroll, Fox is survived by a son from her second marriage, Adam Sigerson, and her husband, Martin Greenberg.

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