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Oates, Joyce Carol

black woman family

Oates, Joyce Carol

(US, 1938– )

Oates is fascinated by violence of all kinds. In Them (1969), which won the 1970 National Book Award, the main character, Maureen Wendall, whom Oates states is based on a student she taught at the University of Detroit, faces conflicts and challenges as she struggles to cut free of her grim, poverty-stricken roots. Wonderland (1971) traces the fate of a boy, Jesse, lone survivor of a family killed in cold blood by its father, while Because It is Bitter and Because It is My Heart (1990) charts the careers of two teenagers, a white woman and a black man, who commit a murder and, in the obvious sense at least, get away with it. Bellefleur (1980), is a Gothic, complex, and symbolic family epic complete with ghosts, a departure from Oates's usual realism. In 1992 Oates published a short novel, Black Water, which attempts to recreate the events of Chappaquiddick, 1988, from the point of view of the young woman drowned in the car of Senator Edward Kennedy.

Raymond Carver, Grace Paley, Edith Wharton  AT

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