Alice Walker became the first African American woman to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize in fiction, for The Color Purple (1982), later made into a movie.
The second African American woman to win this prize was Toni Morrison, who later won the Nobel Prize.
Among the other winners of the Pulitzer Prize in fiction have been Alison Lurie, Anne Tyler, Jane Smiley, E. Annie Proulx, and Carol Shields.
Louise Erdrich became the first Native American woman to earn the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, for Love Medicine (1984). Leslie Marmon Silko, a recipient of one of the “genius” awards from the MacArthur Foundation, has been described as “the most accomplished Indian writer of her generation.”
Many other women have been hailed as major voices in fiction, including Mary Gordon, with novels from a Catholic woman’s point of view; Cynthia Ozick, who writes about Jewish themes; Barbara Kingsolver, with magical tales of ordinary people; Amy Tan, who interweaves the experiences of Chinese immigrant mothers and American-born daughters; Mona Simpson, with insights into family bonds; Gloria Naylor, who portrays strong black women; Joyce Carol Oates, writing in a variety of styles; and Sandra Cisneros, Judith Ortiz Cofer, and Julia Alvarez, who describe the Latina experience.
In 1996 the American Library Association gave Judy Blume a lifetime achievement award for her many fictional works about feisty young girls.