Mimi Albert and her cat, Tscha (at right). Courtesy: Facebook and friends of Albert
Mimi Albert, 82, a writer and former head of the Bay Area Book Reviewers Association, died on Jan, 9, 2023, after a long illness and a severe stroke. She published two critically acclaimed novels, Skirts and Second Story Man, as well as numerous essays, stories and book reviews.
Mimi was born June 18, 1940, in Brooklyn and spent her first six months of life in a Jewish orphanage. Her home life was difficult, with adoptive parents who promoted her talents while also inflicting emotional and physical abuse. As a teenager, she ran away and lived in communal situations in the East Village. She nonetheless managed to complete high school while living in precarious situations. Later she received a bachelor’s degree from Hunter College and a master’s from Columbia University.
After a fairly brief marriage to David Albert, she lived for a year in a community in Northern India as a follower of a Hindu religious leader, Dr. R.P. Kaushik, and as a member of the Darshan Yoga Community. Subsequently she moved to Sonoma County, California and then to Berkeley. She married again to a Swede, Alf Vilenius, but that marriage also did not last. Meanwhile she had begun to teach creative writing at local community colleges and at Napa State Mental Health Institute.
While living in Berkeley and then in Oakland, she continued teaching fiction writers in person and online for Berkeley Extension and writing book reviews for Poetry Flash, despite the handicap of increasing blindness. She died at Kaiser Hospital in Oakland, following the stroke that left her bedridden during her last years.
Mimi was a brilliant writer, a generous and inspiring teacher, writing critic, and friend. She will be sorely missed.