American novelist, short‐story writer, poet, and critic, born in Lockport, New York, educated at Syracuse University and the University of Wisconsin. A former professor of English at the University of Detroit, where much of her work is set. She is a prolific writer, whose fiction portrays intense individual experiences as expressions of the dark and violent heart of American society. Her novels, predominantly naturalistic but with suggestions of the neo‐Gothic, include A Garden of Earthly Delights (1967), The Assassins (1975), Bellefleur (1980), American Appetites (1989), What I Lived For (1994), Blonde (2000), The Falls (2004), and Black Girl/White Girl (2006). Black Water (1992), set on an island off the coast of Maine, is the story of a young woman's meeting with a US senator at a beach party and her subsequent death by drowning. Foxfire (1993) is a powerful portrayal of a teenage girl‐gang in upstate New York during the 1950s. Among many short‐story collections are Upon the Sweeping Flood (1966), The Hungry Ghosts (1974), Last Days (1984), and High Lonesome: New & Selected Stories, 1966–2006 (2006). She has also published collections of poetry, essays, and critical writings.