Michelle Dean


A “deeply researched and uncommonly engrossing” book profiling ten trailblazing literary women, including Dorothy Parker and Joan Didion (Paris Review).
In Sharp, Michelle Dean explores the lives of ten women of vastly different backgrounds and points of view who all made a significant contribution to the cultural and intellectual history of America. These women—Dorothy Parker, Rebecca West, Hannah Arendt, Mary McCarthy, Susan Sontag, Pauline Kael, Joan Didion, Nora Ephron, Renata Adler, and Janet Malcolm—are united by what Dean calls “sharpness,” the ability to cut to the quick with precision of thought and wit.
Sharp is a vibrant depiction of the intellectual beau monde of twentieth-century New York, where gossip-filled parties gave out to literary slugging-matches in the pages of the Partisan Review or the New York Review of Books. It is also a passionate portrayal of how these women asserted themselves through their writing despite the extreme condescension of the male-dominated cultural establishment.
Mixing biography, literary criticism, and cultural history, Sharp is a celebration of this group of extraordinary women, an engaging introduction to their works, and a testament to how anyone who feels powerless can claim the mantle of writer, and, perhaps, change the world.
410 printed pages
Original publication
Publication year
Have you already read it? How did you like it?


  • Natanowicz Fabianhas quoted4 years ago
    Talent can be a kind of accident sometimes. It can choose people and set them up for lives they never would have dreamed of themselves. But that was really the only kind of accident that had any hand in making Dorothy Parker a writer.
  • Natanowicz Fabianhas quoted4 years ago
    Parker liked to present her father’s death as a tragedy and could sometimes sound bitter about how she’d been left to fend for herself
  • Natanowicz Fabianhas quoted4 years ago
    The family name was Rothschild—not those ones, as Parker reminded interviewers all her life. But still a respectable New York Jewish family, financially comfortable enough for Jersey Shore vacations and a large apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan

On the bookshelves

Drag & drop your files (not more than 5 at once)