LEWISBURG, Pa. — Bucknell University has named the award-winning and best-selling author Joyce Carol Oates this year’s Janet Weis Fellow in Contemporary Letters. Bucknell established the annual award in 2002 to honor and recognize an individual who represents the highest level of achievement in fiction writing. Previous recipients were Toni Morrison, John Updike, Salman Rushdie, and Tom Wolfe.
Oates will receive the award and give a talk on Tuesday, Sept. 26, at 7:30 p.m. in the Weis Center for the Performing Arts at Bucknell. The talk is free and open to the public.
"Joyce Carol Oates has rightly been called one of the greatest writers of our time," said Bucknell President Brian C. Mitchell. "We are pleased to welcome this distinguished writer to our campus and to have her share her literary vision with our campus and community."
The recipient of prestigious literary awards around the world, Oates is the author of 37 novels, 23 short story collections, seven volumes of poetry, four volumes of plays, five books of literary criticism, and the book-length essay On Boxing. Her recent works include Missing Mom, The Stolen Heart, I Am No One You Know, a collection of 19 stories that bear witness to the remarkably varied lives of Americans of our time,and Zombie, a bold exploration into the life and mind of a serial killer.
Oates’ vision is of a highly complex America populated by presumably ordinary families who experience common yet intense emotions in relationships and their encounters with violence. Her works mirror the ambiguity and felt experience of the real world of her time.
Nominated three times for the Nobel Prize in Literature, Oates has received many honors, including the 2005 Prix Femina, France’s literary prize for the best novel published in that country; the 2004 Fairfax Prize for Lifetime Achievement in the Literary Arts; the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in short fiction; the Rosenthal Award from the American Academy - Institute of Arts and Letters; a Guggenheim Fellowship; the O. Henry Prize for Continued Achievement in the Short Story; and the National Book Award for her novel Them.
Born in Lockport, N.Y., Oates holds her degrees from Syracuse University and the University of Wisconsin. She taught at the University of Windsor in Canada for a decade before joining the creative writing program at Princeton where she is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities.
Oates began telling stories as a child and began writing in earnest at age 14. She won the college short story contest sponsored by Mademoiselle magazine at age 19, and published her first novel, With Shuddering Fall, when she was 28.
Her other notable books include A Garden of Earthly Delights, which received a National Book Award nomination and is based on Oates’ own family history; Black Water, which was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award and the Pulitzer Prize; You Must Remember This, called ‘an American masterpiece’ by critic James Atlas; and We Were The Mulvaneys, an Oprah Book of the Month selection made into a television movie.
Her most recent work is High Lonesome: Selected Stories, 1966-2006, a collection of the best of her short stories, including 11 new stories.
The Weis Fellowship was established through a grant from the Degenstein Foundation in honor of Janet Weis, author, civic leader and philanthropist. Weis is trustee emerita of the university. Ms. Weis’s late husband, Sigfried Weis, was chair of the Bucknell Board of Trustees from 1982-88.
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