Oates, Joyce Carol

Oates, Joyce Carol, 1938–, American author, b. Lockport, N.Y., B.A. Syracuse Univ., 1960, M.A. Univ. of Wisconsin, 1961. She taught English at the Univ. of Detroit and the Univ. of Windsor, Ontario, Canada, and has been affiliated with Princeton since 1978. Oates writes about contemporary American life, which she sees as often defined by violence. She is particularly concerned with the connection between violence and love. Her characters are mainly ordinary, inarticulate people who sublimate the terrible things that happen to them. Although some of her novels have been labeled gothic, the violence in them is neither mysterious nor necessarily dramatic; it occurs randomly as in everyday life.

Oates has published more than 140 books in a variety of genres, among them dozens of novels. These include With Shuddering Fall (1964); the trilogy A Garden of Earthly Delights (1967, rev. ed. 2003), Expensive People (1968), and them (1969, National Book Award); Wonderland (1971); Childwold (1976); Cybele (1979); Bellefleur (1980); Solstice (1985); Because It Is Bitter, and Because It Is My Heart (1990); What I Lived For (1994); My Heart Laid Bare (1998); Blonde (2000), a fictional work based on the life of Marilyn Monroe; Mudwoman (2012); The Accursed (2013); A Book of American Martyrs (2017); Hazards of Time Travel (2018); and Night, Sleep, Death, the Stars (2020). Oates's hundreds of short stories, many set in W New York, are collected in Wheel of Love (1970), A Sentimental Education (1981), Heat (1991), Will You Always Love Me? (1996), Faithless (2001), Wild Nights! (2008), Lovely, Dark, Deep (2014), Beautiful Days (2018), and other volumes. Oates also has written thrillers (as Rosamond Smith), poems, plays, and children's fiction. Her nonfiction includes a book on boxing (1988); A Widow's Story (2011), which chronicles the aftermath of her husband's sudden death; The Lost Landscape: A Writer's Coming of Age (2015); and essays, reviews, and literary criticism.

See G. Johnson, ed., The Journal of Joyce Carol Oates, 1973–1982 (2007); L. Milazzo, ed., Conversations with Joyce Carol Oates (1989); biography by G. Johnson (1998); studies by L. W. Wagner, ed. (1979), E. G. Friedman (1980), T. Norman (1984), H. Bloom, ed. (1987), J. V. Creighton (1992), M. C. Wesley (1993), G. Johnson (1987 and 1994), B. Daly (1996), and G. Cologne-Brookes (2005).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: American Literature: Biographies