The Gravedigger's Daughter Summary and Reviews

The Gravedigger's Daughter

by Joyce Carol Oates

The Gravedigger's Daughter by Joyce Carol Oates X
The Gravedigger's Daughter by Joyce Carol Oates
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Book Summary

In 1936 the Schwarts, an immigrant family desperate to escape Nazi Germany, settle in a small town in upstate New York, where the father, a former high school teacher, is demeaned by the only job he can get: gravedigger and cemetery caretaker. After local prejudice and the family's own emotional frailty result in unspeakable tragedy, the gravedigger's daughter, Rebecca, begins her astonishing pilgrimage into America, an odyssey of erotic risk and imaginative daring, ingenious self-invention, and, in the end, a bittersweet—but very "American"—triumph. "You are born here, they will not hurt you"—so the gravedigger has predicted for his daughter, which will turn out to be true.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

Starred Review. "Everything in this book depends on Oates' ability to bring a woman before the reader who is deeply veiled—whose real name is unknown even to herself—and she does it with epic panache." - PW

"A truly representative sampling of this unpredictable author's grind-it-out strengths and mind-boggling weaknesses. " - Kirkus.

"Starred Review. Oates is supremely atmospheric, erotic, and suspenseful in this virtuoso novel of identity, power, and moral reckoning." - Booklist.

This information about The Gravedigger's Daughter was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

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FrancoiseBH

Complex subject matter, intense writing...
The complexity of the subject matter combined with the intensity of the writing will easily overcome any emotional resistance the reader may oppose, this book is anything but an easy or fast-paced reading…
The story reaches the most unexpected conclusion with a twenty five pages epistolary epilogue which I wept all the way thru, it is the most moving and most stirring coda I have ever read; at the end of the Harper Perennial edition, Edmund White, the American author and literary critic, interviews Joyce Carol Oates on this novel and she confides to him: «The letters at the end of the novel, though written by me, yet have the power to bring tears to my eyes, after repeated readings, Isn't this strange!»
I am a great fan of this great American author, this is the third book from her that I read and my admiration only grows from one book to the other.

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Author Information

Joyce Carol Oates Author Biography

Photo by Dustin Cohen

Joyce Carol Oates is a recipient of the National Humanities Medal, the National Book Critics Circle Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award, the National Book Award, and the 2019 Jerusalem Prize for Lifetime Achievement, and has been nominated several times for the Pulitzer Prize. She has written some of the most enduring fiction of our time, including the national bestsellers We Were the Mulvaneys; Blonde; and the New York Times bestseller The Falls, which won the 2005 Prix Femina. In 2020 she was awarded the Cino Del Duca World Prize for Literature. She is the Roger S. Berlind '52 Distinguished Professor of the Humanities emerita at Princeton University and has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1978.

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