Author Joyce Carol Oates to give reading at CSB

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January 17, 2019

Joyce Carol Oates
Photo by Dustin Cohen

Perhaps the most talented, honored and prolific writer in American literature history is coming to the College of Saint Benedict.

Joyce Carol Oates will conduct a public reading at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19, at Escher Auditorium, Benedicta Arts Center, College of Saint Benedict. The event is sponsored by the Literary Arts Institute at CSB.

Oates, who has over 50 books, a number of plays and many volumes of short stories, poetry and nonfiction to her credit, is a “name synonymous with productivity,” the New York Times newspaper reported in 1989.

“Nearly every review of an Oates’ book, it seems, begins with a list (of the books she has had published),” wrote The Guardian.

Just how prolific is Oates? Since 2010, she has published nine novels; 10 collections of short stories; four collections of novellas; and four books of nonfiction.

Her latest work is 2018’s “Hazards of Time Travel: A Novel.” Oates has two works scheduled for release in 2019 – a novel, “My Life as a Rat,” and a children’s book, “The New Kitten.”

In “The Journal of Joyce Carol Oates” (2007, Ecco), Oates wrote, “I work hard, and long, and as the hours roll by I seem to create more than I anticipate; more, certainly, than the literary world allows for a ‘serious’ writer. Yet I have more stories to tell, and more novels.”

Her first novel, “With Shuddering Fall,” was published in 1964 when she was 26 years old. Oates followed that with “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” a short story dedicated to Bob Dylan. She told the Lexington (Kentucky) Herald-Leader newspaper in 2008 that she is most noted for that story.

Oates has earned a National Book Award for her novel “them” (1969); two O. Henry Awards (for 1967’s “In the Region of Ice” and for 1973’s “The Dead”) and the National Humanities Medal in 2010 from President Barack Obama. Five of her works – “Black Water” (1992), “What I Lived For” (1994), “Blonde” (2000), “The Wheel of Love” (1970) and “Lovely, Dark, Deep: Stories” (2014) – were finalists for the Pulitzer Prize.

In 1998, Oates received the F. Scott Fitzgerald Award for Achievement in American Literature.

Beginning in 1978, Oates began teaching at Princeton University after a 10-year run at the University of Windsor, Ontario, Canada. She taught at Princeton until 2014, when she retired as the Roger S. Berlind ’52 Professor in the Humanities, Emeritus, and Professor of Creative Writing, Emeritus. Oates has also taught creative writing at the University of California-Berkeley the last few years.

Oates founded the Ontario Review with her late husband, Raymond J. Smith.

As the Princeton Alumni Weekly noted, Oates has produced an “astounding volume of work – more than 50 novels; 36 collections of short stories; three dozen children’s books, plays, volumes of poetry and nonfiction books; and even the libretto for an opera.”

“A future archeologist equipped only with her oeuvre could easily piece together the whole of postwar America,” wrote critic Henry Louis Gates Jr. in The Nation.

Oates will also be in residence from Feb. 17-20 at CSB and Saint John’s University.

Tickets for the event are $10 for adults and seniors, $5 for CSB and Saint John’s University faculty and staff and free for CSB and SJU students, monastery and abbey members and other students. Tickets are available online or by phone at the BAC box office at 320-363-5777 (students need to reserve free tickets for the event).

The Literary Arts Institute (LAI) was founded in 1997 to foster creative writing, publishing and interaction between students and writers.

LAI brings nationally recognized authors to the college for a visiting writers series, promotes literary events, holds conferences, supports publications (S. Mariella Gable Prize) and encourages the artistry of fine letterpress (Welle Book Arts Studio). With its local and national partners, such as Graywolf Press, LAI is able to bring writers and their work together with readers on campus, in Minnesota and beyond.