Joyce Carol Oates
A tireless and towering talent
This article is from 2007.
The legendary French actress Jeanne Moreau once compared the versatility and precision of Oates’ writing to witchcraft. Oates once said of her own work, ‘I’m drawn to failure. I feel that I’m contending with it constantly in my own life’. This perhaps goes some way to explaining her hugely prolific output. Born in New York, Oates published her first novel With Shuddering Fall at the tender age of 26, while teaching at the University of Detroit. But it was 1969’s them, which charts three characters’ lives across various events and tragedies, that really brought her work to a wide audience, scooping the National Book Award in the process.
Since then Oates has become known for publishing approximately a novel a year, her industry never compromising the quality of her work. She has also written and published around a dozen plays and collections of poetry, while her most famous short story, ‘Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been’ is the enigmatic tale of a killer and his teenage prey. Now approaching 70, Oates’ latest novel (her 36th) is The Gravedigger’s Daughter, which charts the shifting fortunes of a troubled young housewife, whose adult life is bookended by encounters with a vicious serial killer. (Allan Radcliffe)
Recommended Reading: Blonde is her exhaustive fictionalised account of Marilyn Monroe’s life
12 Aug, 11.30am, £7 (£5).