Joanne Greenberg Biography
Pseudonym: Hannah Green. Nationality: American. Born: Brooklyn, New York, 1932. Education: American University, Washington, D.C., B.A. Career: Medical officer, Lookout Mountain Fire Department; certified emergency medical technican. Since 1983, adjunct professor of anthropology, Colorado School of Mines, Golden. Awards: Frieda Fromm-Reichman memorial award, 1967; National Jewish Welfare Board Harry and Ethel Daroff award, 1963, and William and Janice Epstein award, 1964, both for The King's Persons; New York Association of the Deaf Marcus L. Kenner award, 1971; Christopher book award, 1971, for In This Sign; Rocky Mountain Women's Institute award, 1983; Denver Public Library Bookplate award, 1990; Colorado Author of the Year award, 1991. D.L.: Western Maryland College, 1977. D.H.L.: Gallaudet College, 1979. J.H.L.: University of Colorado, 1987. Agent: Wallace Literary Agency, 1977 East 70th Street, New York, New York 10021, U.S.A.
The King's Persons. New York, Holt, and London, Gollancz, 1963.
The Monday Voices. New York, Holt, and London, Gollancz, 1965.
In This Sign. New York, Holt, 1968; London, Gollancz, 1970.
The Dead of the House. Garden City, New York, Doubleday, 1972.
Founder's Praise. New York, Holt, 1976.
A Season of Delight. New York, Holt, 1981.
The Far Side of Victory. New York, Holt, and London, Gollancz, 1983.
Simple Gifts. New York, Holt, and London, Gollancz, 1986.
Age of Consent. New York, Holt, and London, Gollancz, 1987.
Of Such Small Differences. New York, Holt, and London, Gollancz, 1988.
No Reck'ning Made. New York, Holt, 1993.
Where the Road Goes. New York, Henry Holt, 1998.
Summering: A Book of Short Stories. New York, Holt, and London, Gollancz, 1966.
Rite of Passage. New York, Holt, 1971; London, Gollancz, 1972.
High Crimes and Misdemeanors. New York, Holt, 1979; London, Gollancz, 1980.
With the Snow Queen and Other Stories. New York, Arcade, 1991.
I Never Promised You a Rose Garden (as Hannah Green). New York, Holt, and London, Pan, 1964.
In the City of Paris (as Hannah Green; for children). Garden City, New York, Doubleday, 1985.
I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, 1977.
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Joanne Greenberg, also known as Hannah Green, is a writer whose style lends itself to the mature reader yet simultaneously presents themes suitable for all ages. Greenberg addresses the persistent doubts that plague all of us by relating stories of others in need. Though the scenarios in which her characters find themselves may be unfamiliar to the average reader, the emotions they feel while enmeshed in the plotlines are universal in appeal and scope. Her works include magazine publications, short stories, novels, and a movie adaptation of her book, I Never Promised You a Rose Garden.
Greenberg wrote I Never Promised You a Rose Garden under the pseudonym Hannah Green. In this book, she details the struggle of a 16-year-old girl fighting for her sanity. The descriptive and, at times, poetic uses of language bring the reader inside the character's world of fantasy. The depiction of the brilliant psychiatrist grappling with the reality of her own life while immersed in the treatment of her patient is explicitly detailed and well written. As Greenberg's personal encounter with mental problems was a basis for the character's ordeal with psychosis and schizophrenia, her empathy for her character is clearly evident.
Another popular book, In This Sign, was heralded by those both within and outside of the deaf community. The themes of loneliness, isolation, and of being different are dramatically brought to life by the experiences of Greenberg's characters. She transforms the occurrences within the realm of her deaf character into common circumstances with which we can all identify. Readers can gain an affinity for the handicapped through edification and education that is expertly interwoven into the story line.
In another book, Of Such Small Differences, Greenberg expands the reader's mind to encompass the daily trials and tribulations of a character who is not only deaf but also blind. The leading character's experiences and ensuing love affair are portrayed as one might relate a story told by one friend to another. The primary difficulties handled by the protagonist are those of anyone involved in a growing relationship. It is a love story. The physical disabilities are secondary in the development of the characters' union.
In Simple Gifts, we also see people somewhat "out of sync" with the world around them. Their lives are complicated by secrets long thought buried. Love, for them, usually comes after much turmoil, when it is least expected.
One of Greenberg's sadder stories is The Far Side of Victory. This book examines such themes as crime and punishment of the human soul. One's guilt or innocence is primarily determined by the ability to cope with life's adversities. In the search for truth and meaning, there lies the experience of love and loss.
In Age of Consent, Greenberg strongly portrays the mysterious loner no one ever really knew. By examining a character's life following untimely death at the hands of murderers, Greenberg cleverly utilizes the technique of flashback. The investigators are forced to look at their own lives as the impact of both the life and death of the main character is revealed. Once again we see a study in solitude; of being alone in the company of many.
A book that includes references to actual historical events is Founder's Praise. This book details the climb of a family through hard times during the history of the United States. Their belief in the goodness of people through religion and morality guides them into their future. Where the Road Goes has the air of, in the words of one character, a "sixties parody." Sixty-two-year old Tig has been involved in every cause of that decade, and three decades later, as she embarks on a walk across the United States to raise consciousness concerning environmental issues, she is unchanged. At home, however, both her daughters are in need, and the book—written in the form of letters and diary entries—reveals that, in Tig's words, "Were I home, I would be less a part of the family's lives. Our distance has brought us closer to one another."
Greenberg has also written several collections of short stories. In one book, Summering, her tales again reflect the themes of love and misunderstanding, loneliness and friendship. We are subsequently captivated by her imaginative characterizations and narratives that uniquely embody her freshness and innovation. In another book of short stories, With the Snow Queen and Other Stories, she writes of people we know. We can relate to people with basic human needs, even in peculiar situations. In one story, she employs the unconventional tact of having a character break through the "third wall" to "speak" directly to the reader. Her range of unusual topics runs the gamut from time travel to the solemnity of the life of a monk. Another collection, High Crimes and Misdemeanors, utilizes much humor and fantasy. Yet Greenberg is still able to embroil the readers in the particulars of her characters that most closely link us all to the hopes, fears, and dreams of life. Additionally, this book contains several stories that derive from Greenberg's religious background.
Greenberg's popularity lies in both her creativity and her originality. Her ability to incorporate common themes into uncommon situations makes her a most readable author.
—Laurie Schwartz Guttenberg
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