Acclaimed author Joyce Carol Oates to give free reading in Fayetteville

Joyce Carol Oates

Photo by Michael Spingler

Renowned writer Joyce Carol Oates, will read from her work at 7 p.m. Monday, April 21 at the Fayetteville Town Center. The event is part of the University of Arkansas Programs in Creative Writing and Translation Distinguished Readers Series, and is free and open to the public. No tickets are required to attend.

Oates, who is the author of more than 50 novels as well as many plays and volumes of short stories, poetry, and nonfiction, comes to Fayetteville just 10 days after Maya Angelou’s scheduled visit to town.

“What an amazing month for our community,” said Todd Shields, dean of the UA Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences. “We get to hear two of the most admired writers of our time within weeks of each other.”

Since 1963, 40 of Oates’ books have been included in the New York Times list of notable books of the year. Her novel, Them, won the National Book Award in 1970. Other honors include two O. Henry Prizes, the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction, and the M. L. Rosenthal Award from the National Institute of Arts and Letters. In 2009, Oates was given the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award by the National Book Critics Circle and the next year was awarded the National Humanities Medal for her contributions to American letters.

Oates began writing as a teenager after her grandmother presented her with a typewriter. At the age of 19 she won the Mademoiselle college fiction contest. Throughout high school and college she followed a regimen of writing, drafting novel after novel.

Since then, she has published books at the rate of roughly two per year. Her oeuvre contains essays, plays, anthologies, literary criticism, children’s books, and poetry in addition to fiction, encompassing countless genres, styles, voices, topics, and modes of creative expression.

“The scope and variety of her works crashes through literary boundaries,” said Davis McCombs, director of the Programs in Creative Writing and Translation. “If you enjoy horror stories, gothic romances, mysteries, suspense, young adult novels, even reportage, you’ll find something to love in Ms. Oates’ work. And, of course, she’s one of the most respected voices in literary fiction working today.”

Oates currently serves as the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University, where she has taught since 1978.

In addition to the reading, Oates will meet with students in the MFA program in creative writing during her visit.