American author Joyce Carol Oates is the recipient of the prestigious 2019 Jerusalem Prize, within the framework of the Jerusalem International Book Forum. Oates will receive the prize on May 12, 2019 from the Mayor of Jerusalem Moshe Lion during the opening ceremony of the Jerusalem International Book Forum (May 12-15) and the International Writers Festival of Mishkenot Sha’ananim (May 12-16). Oates will also take part in the festival program.
Joyce Carol Oates
born 1938, is a brilliant American author, one of the leading and most important living writers in the USA today. During her illustrious literary career, Oates has written many works of fiction, poetry, non-fiction, essays, and plays, and won many prizes. Among her bestselling titles are We Were the Mulvaneys, a selection of the Oprah Winfrey Book Club, Blonde, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, and The Accursed, a “gothic” exploration of racism in early 20th century America (see below for full bio).
2019 Jerusalem Prize jury members Dr. Omri Herzog, Professor Shimon Adaf and Dr. Tamar Hess (Chairman): “Over the course of more than five decades, Joyce Carol Oates has created a rich body of literary work. Her creative work dictates new creative horizons and denotes a continuous breach of boundaries. Although her work is characterized by an unmistakable voice, she continues to surprise her many readers with the elaborate narratives she creates, as well as the thematic variations of her works. Her writing, which corresponds with great American literature, as well as with Gothic literature, with myths and the movement of time, stems from an inexhaustible reservoir of rich imagination: in each book she investigates another unknown territory. More than anything else, Oates describes and throws light on the tension between the hidden anxieties and desires that permeate the human psyche, and the forces of family, society and culture that give them form – imprisoning them and sometimes releasing them. With a deep and profound psychological understanding, she confronts her heroes – as well as her readers – with the ways in which people deal with internal or external demons, and their struggle defines the boundaries of the human condition. But throughout this confrontation, even in its wildest manifestations, a constant line of grace and compassion is discernible.”
2019 Jerusalem Prize laureate Joyce Carol Oates: “I am deeply honored to be a recipient of this distinguished international literary award made to writers whose work deals with the freedom of the individual in society. In a world in which individual freedoms are under assault, the autonomy of the individual and the role of art in our lives is of great concern. The very identity of the individual self is a theme that has long preoccupied me as one whose background has been “marginal”—rural, not prosperous, unallied with a specific religion or culture, born in an era when the term “feminist” scarcely existed.
One of the great mysteries in my family life had to do with my father’s mother who was, we discovered after her death, Jewish. During her lifetime this was kept secret— for reasons not entirely clear to me, but which I explore in my novel “The Gravedigger’s Daughter.” Obviously, there is an entire dimension of my life which was inaccessible to me and which I might have considered lost, and so a visit to Israel is likely to be profound and life-changing.”
The Jerusalem Prize is awarded to international writers whose body of work assert “The Freedom of the Individual in Society”. The prestigious prize includes an award of $10,000. The 2017 Jerusalem Prize laureate was Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgård and previous winners include internationally acclaimed authors and Nobel Prize laureates such as Bertrand Russell (in the inaugural year of 1963), Mario Vargas Llosa, Milan Kundera, Simone de Beauvoir, Arthur Miller, Ian McKewan and Susan Sontag. For the full list, click here.
Jerusalem International Book Forum Director Yoel Makov: “The Jerusalem Prize is awarded by the Mayor of Jerusalem in an honored tradition that began in 1963. The Jerusalem International Book Forum is pleased that Joyce Carol Oates is joining the distinguished list of Jerusalem Prize laureates and thanks the members of the jury, Dr. Tamar Hess (Chairman), Dr. Omri Herzog and Professor Shimon Adaf. We are sure that Oates’ presence in Jerusalem will enrich the experience for all those attending the Jerusalem International Book Forum and the International Writers Festival, which will be cooperating for the first time this year in May.”
The Jerusalem International Book Fair, which has brought together members of the international publishing community since 1963, has taken on a new name, The Jerusalem International Book Forum (May 12-15, 2019) to reflect a change in focus and format and will center around an international conference for publishing professionals. The 2019 Forum is held in cooperation with the International Writers Festival of Mishkenot Sha’ananim (May 12-16, 2019). The joint platform will include professional events alongside literary events for the general public, with the participation of guest authors who represent the contemporary voice of the international literary world as well as Israeli authors.
Joyce Carol Oates is the author of a number of works of fiction, poetry, non-fiction, essays, and plays. She is a recipient of the National Medal of the Humanities, bestowed upon her by President Barack Obama in 2010, as well as the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Lifetime Achievement Award, the PEN/America Lifetime Achievement Award, and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction.
Among her bestselling titles are We Were the Mulvaneys, a selection of the Oprah Winfrey Book Club, Blonde, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, and The Accursed, a “gothic” exploration of racism in early 20th century America. She is a frequent contributor to the New York Review of Books, the New Yorker, and Harpers, as well as Ellery Queen, and such distinguished literary magazines as Boulevard, Kenyon Review, Salmagundi, and Poetry; her stories have been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories, The Best American Mystery Stories, the O. Henry Awards, Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses, The Best American Short Stories of the 20th Century, edited by John Updike, and The Best American Mystery Stories of the 20th Century edited by Otto Penzler. She has herself edited a number of anthologies including The Best American Essays of the 20th Century, The Oxford Book of American Short Stories, The Ecco Anthology of Contemporary Short Fiction, and New Jersey Noir, an anthology of mystery stories. More recently, Oates has been the recipient of the Prix Femina for her novel Mudwoman and the L.A. Times Award for Best Mystery Novel for her novel A Book of American Martyrs. In 2015 she was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award of the International Festival of Literature and Art with Humor (Bilboa, Spain) and in 2017 she was inducted into the American Philosophical Society. She has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1978.
Over a course of many years Joyce Carol Oates has taught at Princeton University, where she is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor in the Lewis Arts Center Emerita, New York University where she has been Writer-in-Residence in the Graduate Writing Program, and University of California at Berkeley where she is currently Visiting Professor in the English Department. Her permanent residence is in Princeton, New Jersey, with her husband Charles Gross, neuroscientist and photographer.
Image credit Dustin Cohen