Fifteen years ago, in 1975, Genna Hewett-Meade's college roommate died a mysterious, violent, terrible death. Minette Swift had been a fiercely individualistic scholarship student, an assertive - even prickly - personality, and one of the few black girls at an exclusive women's liberal arts college near Philadelphia. By contrast, Genna was a quiet, self-effacing teenager from a privileged upper-class home, self-consciously struggling to make amends for her own elite upbringing. When, partway through their freshman year, Minette suddenly fell victim to an increasing torrent of racist harassment and vicious slurs - from within the apparent safety of their tolerant, "enlightened" campus - Genna felt it her duty to protect her roommate at all costs. Now, as Genna reconstructs the months, weeks, and hours leading up to Minette's tragic death, she is also forced to confront her own identity within the social framework of that time.
"...this anecdotal novel feels slight compared to her best work." - PW.
"Oates is a master at injecting potent personal and social psychology into the lean musculature of a thriller, a feat that, in this case, starkly exposes key paradoxes at work in the American soul." - Booklist.
"Characteristically strident and forced - and it's a real shame. This could have been one of Oates's better books." - Kirkus
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Joyce Carol Oates is a recipient of the National Book Award and the PEN/Malamud
Award for Excellence in Short Fiction. She has written some of the most enduring
fiction of our time, including the national bestsellers We Were the
Mulvaneys and Blonde, which was nominated for the National Book
Award. 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. In 2003 she received the Common Wealth Award for
Distinguished Service in Literature and the Kenyon Review Award for Literary
A Widow's Story (2011)
With Shuddering Fall (1964)
Do with Me What You Will (1973)
Miracle Play (1974)
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