City Lights welcomes back Joyce Carol Oates, who reads from her new novel A Book of American Martyrs from Ecco Press.
A BOOK OF AMERICAN MARTYRS intimately links the stories of two very different families. Luther Dunphy is an ardent Evangelical who envisions himself as acting out God’s will when he assassinates an abortion provider in his small Ohio town. Augustus Voorhees, the idealistic doctor who is killed, leaves behind a wife and children scarred and embittered by grief. As the story moves forward, the daughters of these men—one a boxer, the other a journalist—continue to be inextricably tied by the dramatic connection they share. As she alone can, Oates renders whole these two very different families—with very different values and views. Epic and intimate, the narrative explores their warring convictions with dazzling equanimity. A story as immediate as today’s headlines, it also offers a larger perspective on the ways that issues tear us apart as individuals and as a nation.
Joyce Carol Oates is a recipient of the National Humanities Medal, the National Book Critics Circle Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award, 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, 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 in 2006 she received the Chicago Tribune Lifetime Achievement Award.