This Library of America volume gathers all the long fiction published by the beloved Mississippi writer Eudora Welty. Throughout her long and storied career, Welty has been most famous, perhaps, for her short stories. But it's in her novels that she attempted some of her most ambitious and powerful creations: the idiosyncratic fable that isThe Robber Bridegroom
, drawing on legends, local history, folktale, and myth; the underrated, wickedly funny short novelThe Ponder Heart
; andLosing Battles
, a familial epic 15 years in the making and begun in bits and pieces while Welty cared for her sick mother. In a strange inversion of the author's usual career trajectory, Welty's only attempt at aroman à clef
came late in life, with thePulitzer Prize
-winningThe Optimist's Daughter
, the quiet, moving, largely autobiographical story of a woman coming to grips with her father's death. The novels alone earn Welty a place as one of the finest writers our century has produced; taken together with the Library of America companion volume,Stories, Essays, & Memoir
, it's a body of work that William Maxwell calls "beyond human power of praising." Welty rarely strayed for long from the place of her birth, but her fiction is as capacious as the human heart itself. Like Faulkner, she has taken her own corner of Mississippi and made it encompass the world.