Olsen published a relatively miniscule body of work over seven decades, but her story, "Tell Me a Riddle," is considered a classic.
The 1961 story won the O. Henry Award and recounted the final reconciliation of a battling married couple on the brink of the wife's death.
"She's a writer's writer," Feminist Press founder Florence Howe told the Los Angeles Times. "Everyone mourns that there isn't another volume like 'Tell Me a Riddle.'"
Her unfinished novel "Yonnondio: From the Thirties," was published in 1974 and is considered a classic work on the Great Depression.
Olsen died in her longtime home of Oakland after experiencing declining health, the Times said.