Joyce Carol Oates is one of America's most versatile, honored writers, the author of a number of distinguished books in several genres. To date, she has published 37 novels and novellas, including a series of experimental suspense novels under the pseudonym Rosamond Smith. She has also published 23 volumes of short stories, 7 volumes of poetry, 4 volumes of plays, as well as nonfiction works on literary subjects ranging from the poetry of Emily Dickinson, the fiction of Dostoyevsky and James Joyce, to studies of the gothic and horror genres, and on such non-literary subjects as the painter George Bellows and the boxer Mike Tyson. John Gardner has called her "one of the greatest writers of our time."
On the occasion of the publication of You Must Remember This, critic James Atlas called it "an American Masterpiece." He also said of Oates's writing in general, "The engine of Oates's immense talent is powered by a fecund imagination and an immense knowledge of literature, as all her writing- both fiction and nonfiction- made plain."
Her writing has earned her praise and awards, including the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in short fiction, the Rosenthal Award from the American Academy - Institute of Arts and Letters, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the O'Henry Prize for Continued Achievement in the Short Story, the National Book Award for her novel Them and in 1978, membership in the American Academy-Institute. What I Lived For as nominated for the 1995 PEN/Faulkner Award. In 1999 she was nominated for the Nobel Prize for the third time. Black Water was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award and the Pulitzer Prize. In January 2001 We Were The Mulvaneys
was selected as an Oprah Book of the Month.
Often Oates's "vision" is that of a highly complex America populated with presumably ordinary families who experience common yet intense emotions and relationships and who frequently encounter violence. Her ambition is to create a fictional world that mirrors the ambiguity and felt experience of the real world of her time.
Some of her recent works include: Uncensored: Views & (Re)views (HarperCollins, 2005), Joyce Carol Oates's most candid gathering of prose pieces since (Woman) Writer: Occasions & Opportunities; Sexy (HarperCollins, 2005); The Falls, a novel (HarperCollins, 2004); Freaky Green Eyes, a young adult novel, (HarperCollins, 2003); I'll Take You There (Ecco Press, 2003); I Am No One You Know, (Ecco Press, 2004), nineteen startling stories that bear witness to the remarkably varied lives of Americans of our time; The Tattooed Girl (HarperCollins,2003), a novel; A Garden of Earthly Delights, first published in 1967, received a National Book Award nomination, was recently released in a new hardcover edition (Modern Library, 2003); Big Mouth & Ugly Girl, her first novel for young adults (HarperCollins, 2002);Blonde (The Ecco Press, 2000); We Were The Mulvaneys (Dutton, 1996).
She won a scholarship to attend Syracuse University, where she majored in English. When she was only 19, she won the "college short story" contest sponsored by Mademoiselle magazine. Oates was the valedictorian of her graduating class. After receiving her BA degree, she earned her Master's in a single year at the University of Wisconsin.
She went on to publish new books at the extraordinary rate of two or three per year, while teaching full-time. By this time, Oates had become one of the most respected and honored writers in the United States though she was only in her early thirties. Since 1978, Joyce Carol Oates has been the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University, teaching in the creative writing program. She lives in Princeton with her husband of over 35 years. Her literary work has continued unabated.
NOTE: Bio is as it appeared in the Forum program from February 4, 2006.
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