At Guernica, Amy Wright interviews novelist, activist, and feminist Dorothy Allison on class, how poverty can influence a life’s path, the definition of a working-class heroine, and the role of women writers in literature.

A social activist deeply invested in the early feminist movement, Allison met head-on the dangers of free expression. If her courage to keep raising her voice empowers others, she is not so naïve as to imagine our right to speak will ever be equal. Nor, I realize after spending several weeks with her, would she deprive anyone of the fight, her sentences often undercutting someone else’s surety, or her own. Having written genius works of resilience, she recognizes the favor you do a person to unsettle her.

Guernica: How does your conception of class differ from that projected on you?

Dorothy Allison: You know those famous pictures of the South in which…

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