Trinidadian writer Rosa Guy, who was best known for her unflinching young adult fiction, has died in Manhattan after a battle with cancer. She was 89.

The author of fifteen novels, Guy was beloved for her treatment of issues many young women of color face, including class warfare, pregnancy, post-immigration adjustment, sexuality, and tensions between American blacks and West Indians.

The New York Times cites her ’70s trilogy of novels, The FriendsRubyand Edith Jackson as her most popular young adult works, but she is perhaps best known for the play, Once on This Island, which was adapted from her 1985 novel for adults, My Love, My Love: Or, The Peasant Girl. This book, which was a modern Caribbean retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid, dealt with the difficult-to-cross class divide between a wealthy man and a Creole peasant.

The Times‘ lovely write-up also includes commentary from Maya Angelou, who was Guy’s close friend of over 50 years. Read the obituary in its entirety here and honor Rosa Guy by picking up one of her novels for yourself or one of the young women in your life.

Check out the video below for a glimpse at the original 1990 Broadway production of Once On This Island:

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  • Leonie UK

    Rosas Guy was and shall remain my favourite childrens author. I grew up reading her books and trying to understanding the complex intergration of with my own West Indian V British life. “Ruby” my introduction to Lesbianism, “The Friends” my introduction to the true meaning of friendships, and “Edith Jackson” probably one of the main reason I work so closely with Social Services and vulnerable adults, and still hold a copy in my collection. I loved reading her other works over the years, and have yet to see an author touch me the same way.

    I thank you Ms Guy for sharing your gift with the world, missing you already.

  • Rosa Guy was my absolute favorite author as a young adult. Even as an adult, I bought her book again and reread it just to bring back memories, and still enjoyed it!

    She definitely will be missed.

  • JWC

    I have never heard of this sista. Thank you for this article. I am on it now. I can’t wait to learn more about her work:)

    • Dalili


  • Cia

    I love Rosa Guy! We did Once On This Island in highschool and it was so much fun! Great story!

  • Warner C. Guy III

    seeing peoples comments and the impact my grandmother had , also the new interests of peoples warms my heart and our family appreciates your beautiful heartflelt comments. thank you.