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.
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"...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 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 ...
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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