Joyce Carol Oates's newest novel is A Book of American Martyrs. From the transcript of her Q&A with NPR's Ari Shapiro:
ARI SHAPIRO, HOST: A man who considers himself a soldier of Christ shoots a doctor who performs abortions. Over the next 700 pages, we see the consequences of that act rippling through both families - the doctor's and his killer's. The novel is called "A Book Of American Martyrs," and Joyce Carol Oates joins us now. Welcome to the program.--Marshal Zeringue
JOYCE CAROL OATES: Thank you.
SHAPIRO: You wrote this book before Donald Trump won the presidential election, and it now feels impossible to read the novel without seeing it through the lens of current events. Do you think the book reads differently now than you imagined it?
OATES: Well, what you're saying is so, so true. And when I was working on it, I remember being so immersed in that world, which of course is 1999 and 2000, early 2000. And no, I had no idea what we were moving toward.
My novel deals with the sort of grassroots resentment of elite, you know, Washington people and just a kind of somehow very deep, visceral hatred of the liberal imagination, which is usually secular. So the novel is suffused with the kind of emotions that all came out in the election and really brought us to this populist demagogue Trump.
SHAPIRO: For the first more than a hundred pages of this book, we really only see the world through the eyes of Luther Dunphy, the man who kills the doctor who performs abortions. We experience his childhood, his struggles, his inner thoughts. It almost feels as though you want to force the reader to see this man as more than an extremist, somebody who you cannot simply just dismiss. Why did you begin the book this way?
OATES: Well, Luther's very...[read on]