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Joyce Carol Oates Wins 2012 Blue Metropolis Literary Grand Prix Award


Steve Runk    
Director of Communications
Lewis Center for the Arts

(Princeton, NJ) Writer Joyce Carol Oates, Princeton University’s Roger S. Berlind ’52 Professor of the Humanities and Professor of Creative Writing in the Lewis Center for the Arts, has been awarded the prestigious 2012 Blue Metropolis Literary Grand Prix Award.  Previous recipients have included Carlos Fuentes, Mavis Gallant, Norman Mailer, and Margaret Atwood.

The Blue Metropolis International Literary Grand Prix is awarded annually to a writer of international stature and accomplishment as a celebration of a lifetime of literary achievement. The prize is unusual both in the literary quality of the authors it honors and in the substance of the contributions it recognizes. The winner is chosen by a jury of well-known writers and journalists.

Oates joined the Princeton faculty in 1978 and is the author of a number of award-winning books of fiction including novels and short story collections, as well as essay collections, in the course of a writing career that has spanned five decades.  She began writing novels at 14, after her grandmother gave her a typewriter for her birthday.  At 19, she won the Mademoiselle magazine fiction contest.

“I am very honored by the recognition this award provides by my peers in the literary field,” noted Oates upon learning of the designation.  “It is humbling to be included among the great writers who have previously received this award, colleagues whose work I have long admired and respected.”

Much of her fiction has been set in upstate rural New York and has explored family relationships, many of them plagued by violence, poverty and addiction.  Among her most acclaimed novels are We Were The Mulvaneys (1996), a portrait of a family's fall from grace; Blonde (2000), which portrays the life of Marilyn Monroe; The Falls (2004), a haunting story about Niagara Falls; and The Gravedigger's Daughter (2007) which is based on the life of Oates' grandmother.  In a review of her most recent novel, Mudwoman, the Los Angeles Times wrote, “Oates is just a fearless writer…with her brave heart and her impossibly lush and dead-on imaginative powers.”

In addition to her work in fiction, Oates is known for her literary criticism and essays, which have examined such diverse themes as boxing, serial killers, poetry and art.  Her many literary awards include the National Book Award, the PEN/Malamud Award honoring excellence in the art of the short story, the O. Henry Prize for continued achievement in the short story, and the Kenyon Review Award for Literary Achievement.  In 2010 Oates was awarded The National Humanities Medal.

The Lewis Center for the Arts is part of a major initiative announced by President Shirley M. Tilghman in 2006 to fully embrace the arts as an essential part of the educational experience for all who study and teach at Princeton University. The Lewis Center for the Arts will have a significant impact on the University and the larger community it serves. The public is welcomed to a full range of lectures, exhibitions, concerts and performances at the Center. Many of the Center’s events are free or charge a nominal admission fee.

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