Tell Me a Riddle, Requa I, and Other Works


Tell Me a Riddle, Requa I, and Other Works

Tillie Olsen
Foreword by Laurie Olsen
Introduction by Rebekah Edwards

192 pages


September 2013


$17.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)

(Requires Adobe Digital Editions)

September 2013


$17.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

A century after her birth, Tillie Olsen’s writing is as relevant as when it first appeared; indeed, the clarity and passion of her vision and style have, if anything, become even more striking over time. Collected here for the first time are several of Olsen’s nonfiction pieces about the 1930s, early journalism pieces, and short fiction, including the four beautifully crafted, highly celebrated stories originally published as Tell Me a Riddle: “I Stand Here Ironing,” “Hey Sailor, What Ship?,” “O Yes,” and “Tell Me a Riddle.” Also included, for the first time since it appeared in the 1971 Best American Short Stories, is “Requa I.”

In these stories, as in all of her work, Olsen set a new standard for the treatment of women and the poor and for the depiction of their lives and circumstances. In her hands, the hard truths about motherhood and marriage, domestic life, labor, and political conviction found expression in language of such poetic intensity and depth that their influence continues to be felt today.

An introduction by Olsen’s granddaughter, the poet Rebekah Edwards, and a foreword by her daughter Laurie Olsen provide a personal and generational context for the author’s work.

Author Bio

Tillie Olsen (1912–2007) was an activist, feminist, award-winning author, and teacher who won nine honorary degrees and whose short stories “Tell Me a Riddle” (winner of the O. Henry Award) and “I Stand Here Ironing” have been anthologized extensively. She is the author of the novel Yonondio: From the Thirties, available in a Bison Books edition, the nonfiction book Silences, and numerous published essays and is the editor of Mother to Daughter, Daughter to Mother: Mothers on Mothering.


"An excellent volume that will appeal to anyone interested in women's studies, social justice, journalism, and American short stories and fiction."—Erica Swenson, Library Journal

"Even a century later, Olsen's writing is brilliantly measured and rich in character—a blend that few writers achieve. Coupled with essays by her daughters and granddaughter, Olsen's newest collection is a must-have for any reader."—Portland Book Review

Table of Contents

Foreword by Laurie Olsen

Introduction by Rebekah Edwards

Tell Me a Riddle

      I Stand Here Ironing

      Hey Sailor, What Ship?

      O Yes

      Tell Me a Riddle

Requa I

A Vision of Fear and Hope

The Strike

Thousand-Dollar Vagrant

I Want You Women up North to Know

Biographical Sketch by Laurie Olsen

Source Acknowledgments

Also of Interest