One of the United States's most prolific and versatile contemporary writers, Joyce Carol Oates (born 1938) focuses upon the spiritual, sexual and intellectual decline of modern American society. Oates was born into a working-class Catholic family outside Lockport, NY, and was raised amid a rural setting on her maternal grandparents' farm. She attended a one-room schoolhouse in Erie County, a parallel community to her fictitious Eden County where many of her works are set.
Oates has written 56 novels, over 30 collections of short stories, eight volumes of poetry, plays, innumerable essays and book reviews, as well as longer nonfiction works on literary subjects ranging from the poetry of Emily Dickinson and 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. In 1996, Oates received the PEN/Malamud Award for “a lifetime of literary achievement.”
Today, Joyce Carol Oates continues to live and write in Princeton, New Jersey, where she is Distinguished Professor of Humanities at Princeton University. Her most recent books include the novel The Accursed — an eerie and stunning tale of psychological horror — and the short-story collection, Lovely, Dark, Deep: Stories — a collection of ten mesmerizing stories that map the disturbing darkness within us all — which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.
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