The Accursed: Book summary and reviews of The Accursed by Joyce Carol Oates

The Accursed

by Joyce Carol Oates

The Accursed

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Book Summary

This eerie tale of psychological horror sees the real inhabitants of turn-of-the-century Princeton fall under the influence of a supernatural power. New Jersey, 1905: soon-to-be commander-in-chief Woodrow Wilson is president of Princeton University.

On a nearby farm, Socialist author Upton Sinclair, enjoying the success of his novel 'The Jungle', has taken up residence with his family. This is a quiet, bookish community - elite, intellectual and indisputably privileged. But when a savage lynching in a nearby town is hushed up, a horrifying chain of events is initiated - until it becomes apparent that the families of Princeton have been beset by a powerful curse. The Devil has come to this little town and not a soul will be spared.

The Accursed marks new territory for the masterful Joyce Carol Oates - narrated with her unmistakable psychological insight, it combines beautifully transporting historical detail with chilling fantastical elements to stunning effect.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Take on this 700-page behemoth with an open mind, and hang on for the ride." - Publishers Weekly "

"Starred Review. Oates brings her nightshade humor and extraordinary fluency in eroticism and violence, American history and literature (her magnetizing characters include Mark Twain, Jack London, and Upton Sinclair) to this piercing novel of the devastating toll of repression and prejudice, sexism and class warfare. A diabolically enthralling and subversive literary mash-up." - Booklist

"Though the mix of genres might be too rich for some readers and the happy ending too manufactured for others, this is a smart and relentlessly absorbing read." - Library Journal

"Starred Review. Carefully and densely plotted, chockablock with twists and turns and fleeting characters, her novel offers a satisfying modern rejoinder to the best of M.R. James--and perhaps even Henry James. Though it requires some work and has a wintry feel to it, it's oddly entertaining, as a good supernatural yarn should be." - Kirkus

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Author Information

Joyce Carol Oates Author Biography

Photo by Marion Ettlinger

Joyce Carol Oates was born in Lockport, New York, in 1938 and grew up on the family farm where she developed a love of literature and writing. She earned a scholarship to Syracuse University and graduated valedictorian. She then took a masters degree, after which she started teaching at the University of Detroit where she met her first husband Raymond J Smith. In the late '60s, they moved to the University of Windsor in Canada, where they were co-editors of the literary quaterly publication The Ontario Review. In the late 1970s she took a teaching position at Princeton University where she is currently the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities.

She published her first book in 1963, and has published over 40 ...

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