Picture of author.

Lucia Berlin (1936–2004)

Author of A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories

70+ Works 2,317 Members 77 Reviews 8 Favorited

About the Author

Lucia Berlin (1936-2004) worked brilliantly but sporadically throughout the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. Her stories are inspired by her early childhood in various Western mining towns; her glamorous teenage years in Santiago, Chile; three failed marriages; a lifelong problem with alcoholism; her years show more spent in Berkeley, New Mexico, and Mexico City; and the various jobs she later held to support her writing and her four sons. Sober and writing steadily by the 1990s, she took a visiting writer's post at the University of Colorado Boulder in 1994 and was soon promoted to associate professor. In 2001, in failing health, she moved to Southern California to be near her sons. She died in 2004 in Marina del Rey. (Bowker Author Biography) show less
Image credit: luciaberlin.com

Works by Lucia Berlin

A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories (2015) — Author — 1,676 copies
So Long: Stories 1987-1992 (1993) 42 copies
Where I Live Now (1999) 39 copies
Safe & Sound (1989) 5 copies
Angels Laundromat (1981) 4 copies
Phantom Pain (1984) 4 copies
Welcome Home 3 copies
The Musical Vanity Boxes (2016) 2 copies
Berlin Lucia 1 copy
The Wives 1 copy
Friends 1 copy
El Tim 1 copy

Associated Works

Calling Home: Working-Class Women's Writings (1990) — Contributor — 57 copies
The Penguin Book of the Modern American Short Story (2021) — Contributor — 44 copies
Modern Fiction About Schoolteaching: An Anthology (1995) — Contributor — 4 copies
早稲田文学増刊 女性号 (2017) — Contributor — 1 copy


Common Knowledge

Canonical name
Berlin, Lucia
Date of death
Burial location
Green Mountain Cemetery, Boulder, Colorado, USA
Juneau, Alaska, USA
Place of death
Marina del Rey, California, USA
Places of residence
Boulder, Colorado, USA
Santiago, Chile
Idaho, USA
Montana, USA
Arizona, USA (show all 8)
California, USA
New Mexico, USA
short story writer
creative writing teacher
switchboard operator
Sender, Ramon J. (teacher)
University of Colorado, Boulder
Short biography
Lucia Berlin was born in Juneau, Alaska, and grew up in mining camps in Idaho, Montana, and Arizona, following her father's career as a mining engineer; then in Santiago, Chile, where she led a wealthy and privileged life as a teenager. She began publishing stories at age 24 in national magazines, but her first collection, Angel's Laundromat, did not appear until 1981. Most of her work can be found in three volumes: Homesick: New and Selected Stories (1990), So Long: Stories 1987-92 (1993) and Where I Live Now: Stories 1993-98 (1999). She received an American Book Award in 1991 for Homesick, and was awarded a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2015, nearly 10 years after her death, she finally achieved fame with the publication of her bestselling collection A Manual for Cleaning Women: Short Stories. She had held a variety of blue-collar jobs to support herself, including switchboard operator and cleaning woman, reflected in the titles of some of her stories. She also taught creative writing in a diverse places, including the San Francisco County Jail and the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University. In 1994-1995, she was a Visiting Writer at the University of Colorado, Boulder. At the end of her term, she was named associate professor, and continued teaching at UC Boulder until 2000.

She was married three times and had four children.



I should like to say all the good things. Lucia Berlin, when she's on, writes stories that are perfectly crisp, vivid, funny, piercing, and thoughtful. I'm so thankful for whatever hype and circumstance let to a remaindered edition of the previous collection joining my bookshelf. This collection is not as tight, but the gems are gems and deserve to be treasured.
Kiramke | 8 other reviews | Jun 27, 2023 |
Crisp and present and unexpected and immersive.
Kiramke | 56 other reviews | Jun 27, 2023 |
«I'm sorry. I'm a poet. I deal with the specific».
Cominciamo col dire che per fortuna il libro l'ho letto in inglese, col titolo giusto e con in copertina una bella foto della stessa Berlin. E continuiamo col dire che Munro, Carver e perfino Cechov (citati in quarta di copertina) non sono tanto autori in cui trovare somiglianze con lo stille di Berlin ma piuttosto compagni di squadra nel gruppo dei grandi scrittori di racconti, in cui Lucia entra di diritto. Ho letto questo libro - come sempre mi viene di fare con le raccolte di racconti - con grande lentezza, in quasi nove mesi in cui ovviamente ho letto altro. In questo periodo Berlin è stata una compagna fidata e ora quasi mi dispiace aver terminato i racconti. Se c'è un tratto che riconosco a questa autrice e che definisce la sua unicità anche rispetto a quelli citati sopra, è il suo essere sempre così se stessa. In questi racconti ci sono l'America del Sud e il Messico, ci sono i luoghi, i lavori e soprattutto le persone che Berlin ha frequentato. E c'è la sua voce, unica nel delineare un punto di vista inconfondibilmente femminile.… (more)
d.v. | 56 other reviews | May 16, 2023 |
Some of the stories were really difficult to get through and I didn't really get the point of some of the others, which is probably just a me-problem. I don't know. But the parts I liked were really good and it was a solid book.
ninagl | 56 other reviews | Jan 7, 2023 |



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Federica Aceto Translator
Justine Anweiler Cover designer
Lydia Davis Foreword
Jonathan Simpson Cover photograph
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