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Pulitzer Prize-winning Metairie author dies at 91

1 month 2 weeks 1 day ago Tuesday, August 04 2020 Aug 4, 2020 August 04, 2020 10:27 AM August 04, 2020 in News
Source: The New Orleans Advocate
Shirley Ann Grau in 1966 Photo: University Archives, Special Collections, Howard-Tilton Memorial Library at Tulane University

KENNER — A Pulitzer Prize-winning Louisiana author passed away Monday, August 3 due to complications brought on by a stroke.

According to The New Orleans Advocate, Metairie-based author, Shirley Ann Grau, died at a Kenner health care facility. 

Grau's career spans an impressive fifty years, during which she penned six novels, four collections of short stories and a teleplay.

Her first book was published in 1956 and her later novel, “The Keepers of the House,” was the work of fiction that earned her the renowned Pulitzer award.

The way Grau reacted to the news of her accomplishment has become a well-known anecdote. She's said to have received a phone call from the Pulitzer Prize official and hung up on him in disbelief, thinking she was the target of a practical joke.

Later, when she received the same news in an official telegram and via verbal confirmation from her publisher, Grau finally realized she'd won the coveted literary award.   

Her books and stories, often set in New Orleans and the South, frequently touched on topics involving race relations and family conflict. Notable works included “The House on Coliseum Street” and “The Condor Passes."

The product of a Louisiana-Alabama upbringing and an education at both Ursuline Academy and Tulane University, the prolific writer was described by a newspaper of her time as "a young well-spoken Metairie housewife" and mother.

Grau and her husband, James K. Feibleman, raised four children.

One of Grau's daughters, Nora F. McAlister, confirmed her mother's death this week. 

Grau is survived by two daughters, two sons, and six grandchildren. 

She was 91 years old. 

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