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Visiting Writer: Joyce Carol Oates
There is no more versatile and accomplished American writer than Joyce Carol Oates. The author of many books, Oates has penned bestselling novels, critically acclaimed collections of short fiction, as well as essays, plays, poetry, a recent memoir, A Widow’s Story, and an unlikely bestseller, On Boxing. Her remarkable literary industry – which includes work as an editor and anthologist – spans forms, themes, topics and genres. Writing in The Nation, critic Henry Louis Gates Jr. said, “A future archeologist equipped only with her oeuvre could easily piece together the whole of postwar America.” In 2010, reflecting the widespread esteem in which her work is held, President Barack Obama awarded Oates the National Humanities Medal.
Best known for her fiction, Oates’ novels include them, which won the National Book Award; Blonde, a bold reimagining of the inner life of Marilyn Monroe; The Falls, which won the France’s Prix Femina; The Gravedigger’s Daughter and Little Bird of Heaven, each set in upstate New York; and We Were the Mulvaneys, which follows the disintegration of an American family and which became a bestseller after being selected by Oprah’s Book Club. Her 2012 publications include the novels Daddy Love, and Mudwoman, and Black Dahlia & White Rose, a collection of stories. Her novel, The Accursed, was released in March 2013. Her recent novel Carthage (January 2014) was a New York Times bestseller. Her new book is High Crime Area: Tales of Darkness and Dread (April 2014).
High Lonesome: New and Selected Stories 1966-2006 gathers Oates’ short fiction from earlier collections and includes eleven additional tales that further demonstrate the artistry and originality of a writer who “has imbued the American short story with an edgy vitality and raw social surfaces” (Chicago Tribune). Included in this volume is Oates’ most anthologized short story, “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” Inspired by a song by Bob Dylan, it was later adapted as a film, Smooth Talk. It is one of a handful of Oates’ works made into films or movies for television. The latest adaption is Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang (2012), by Palme d’Or winner Laurent Cantet.
Since 1963, forty of Oates’s books have been included on the New York Times list of notable books of the year. Among her many honors are two O. Henry Prizes and two Bram Stoker Awards, the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction, World Fantasy Award, and M. L. Rosenthal Award from the National Institute of Arts and Letters. In 2009, Oates was given the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award by the National Book Critics Circle. In 2012, she was awarded both the Mailer Prize for Lifetime Achievement and the PEN Center USA Award for Lifetime Achievement. In March 2014 she will be awarded the Poets & Writers Distinguished Lifetime Award.
Joyce Carol Oates is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University, and since 1978, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.