Joyce Carol Oates

Novelist, essayist, and poet Joyce Carol Oates was born in Lockport, New York. She earned a BA from Syracuse University, where she graduated valedictorian, and an MA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
One of the most prolific American writers of the 20th century, Oates counts historical biographies, depictions of working class families, and magical realist Gothic fiction among her oeuvre. She often depicts hardships and violence in American towns, and has received both critical and popular acclaim in her 50-year career. In an interview for the Paris Review, she says: “I try to write books that can be read in one way by a literal-minded reader, and in quite another way by a reader alert to symbolic abbreviation and parodistic elements. And yet, it's the same book—or nearly. A trompe l'oeil, a work of ‘as if.’”
Oates is the author of over 70 books, including the novels them (1969), winner of the National Book Award; Bellefleur (1980); You Must Remember This (1987); Because It Is Bitter, and Because It Is My Heart (1990); We Were the Mulvaneys (1996); Blonde (2000), winner of the National Book Award; The Gravedigger’s Daughter (2007); and The Accursed (2013). Her short stories and essays have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, The Atlantic, and Harper’s, and have been widely anthologized.

Send questions, comments and corrections to

Disclaimer: No endorsement of these ratings should be implied by the writers and writing programs listed on this site, or by the editors and publishers of Best American Short Stories, Best American Essays, Best American Poetry, The O. Henry Prize Stories and The Pushcart Prize Anthology.