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Joyce Carol Oates is t only one of our most important velists and literary critics, she is also an unparalleled master of the short story. In Sourland she maps the surprising contours of ordinary life, exploring how the power of violence, loss, and grief shape both the psyche and the soul. From a desperate man who dons a jack-o'-lantern head as a prelude to a most curious sort of courtship, to a story of a stabbing many times recounted in the life of a lonely girl; from a beguiling young woman librarian whose amputee state attracts a married man and father, to a girl hopelessly in love with her renegade, incarcerated cousin; from a professor's wife who finds herself tragically isolated at a party in her own house, to the concluding title story of an unexpectedly redemptive love rooted in radical aloneness and isolation, each story in Sourland resonates beautifully with Oates' trademark fascination for the unpredictable amid the prosaic-the commingling of sexual love and violence, the tumult of family life-and shines with her predilection for dark humor and her gift for voice.
Joyce Carol Oates is a recipient of the National Medal of Humanities, 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 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.