American essayist and novelist, known for her uncompromising depictions of contemporary American society, in collections of essays such as Slouching towards Bethlehem (1968), in which the deteriorating California of the 1960s comes to represent the decline in seriousness of the USA and the world. This was followed by The White Album (1979) and Sentimental Journeys (1993; originally published as After Henry, 1992), where she brings her laconic prose and sense of cultural despair to scrutinize three American cities. Her novels, which deal with the difficulties faced by women in a patriarchal society, include Play It As It Lays (1970), and The Book of Common Prayer (1977). Salvador (1983) describes a repressive political regime. Miami (1987) traces the attempts of marginalized Hispanic communities to integrated into society. Political Fictions (2001) is a collection of essays on American politics between 1988 and 2000.