Joyce Carol Oates is a recipient of the National Book Award and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction. She has written some of the most enduring fiction of our time, including the national bestsellers We Were the Mulvaneys and Blonde (a finalist for the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize), and the New York Times bestsellers The Falls (winner of the 2005 Prix Femina Etranger) and The Gravedigger’s Daughter. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University and has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1978. In 2003 she received the Common Wealth Award for Distinguished Service in Literature and The Kenyon Review Award for Literary Achievement, and in 2006 she received the Chicago Tribune Lifetime Achievement Award.
Her recent novels include Little Bird of Heaven, Dear Husband, A Fair Maiden, and Mudwoman.
From her Q & A with Jacqueline Mroz for New Jersey Monthly about New Jersey Noir, which Oates edited:
Is New Jersey a perfect setting for noir?Learn about the book that changed Joyce Carol Oates's life.
Perhaps many states of the United States are perfect settings for the noir sensibility—California, New York and Louisiana certainly come to mind—but New Jersey seemed ideal, as my preface suggests.
Jonathan Safran Foer’s story in the collection is set in Princeton. Does he capture the essence of your town? What is the essence of Princeton?
The university is comprised of thousands of individuals, many from foreign countries. Jonathan’s story is primarily about estrangement within the too-near real and could be set virtually everywhere; but since Jonathan knows Princeton from having been a student here for four years, he set it here.
How do you think an outsider’s view of New Jersey differs from that of New Jerseyans?
I have no idea how people in Idaho regard us. Most people’s views of others are cliches and not really worth investigating. That is why art attempts some complexity of portraiture.
You’ve lived in New Jersey for many years. Do you feel like a New Jerseyan?
I feel like...[read on]