Melissa Bank, the author best known for her 1999 best seller “The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing,” has died following a struggle with lung cancer, publisher Penguin Books has confirmed to USA TODAY. She was 61.
A statement from Penguin on Wednesday notes Bank died Tuesdayin East Hampton, New York, calling her “a writer with a distinctive minimalist style and boldly hilarious voice,” and adds, “she captivated generations of readers with her warmly piercing takes on relationships, family and adulthood.”
Bank’s modest bibliography left a large footprint on best sellers lists at the turn of the century. “The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing” told the story of Jane Rosenal in a collection of linked short stories, starting at age 14 and following her adventures and travails in sex, love and work with a relatable, comic touch. Even readers who never picked it up will likely recall the book’s striking cover of a girl in a red winter coat, running away in boots and a black hat with ear flaps.
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“The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing” debuted on the USA TODAY Best Selling Books list in 1999, reaching as high as No. 24 and spending 40 weeks on the list.
Bank followed that blockbuster success with her novel “The Wonder Spot,” published in 2005, about another young woman, Sophie Applebaum, and her quest to forge her own identity.
Bank received an MFA from Cornell University and won the Nelson Algren Award for short fiction from the Chicago Tribune. She is listed on the faculty page for Stony Brook Southampton located in Southampton, New York.
Many writers expressed their condolences on Twitter Wednesday, sharing their appreciation for her work.
“RIP to Melissa Bank, who wrote a smart and funny book lots of people loved (and tried to imitate for years), The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing,” wrote Jami Attenbergauthor of “The Middlesteins” and “All This Could Be Yours.”
“Such heartbreaking news. This beautiful collection by #MelissaBank was such a landmark for me and so many others,” wrote novelist Laura Zigmanreferencing “The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing.”
“RIP to Melissa Bank, author of a great many things but perhaps most incredibly, ‘The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing’. One of those beguiling books that, if you catch it at the right time, becomes a lifelong friend,” tweeted writer Gideon Yago.
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Contributing: Mary Cadden, USA TODAY
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