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2 Beaverton Literature- A to Z

The Gravedigger's Daughter

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The Gravedigger's Daughter Cover

ISBN13: 9780061236822
ISBN10: 0061236829
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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.

In The Gravedigger's Daughter, Oates has created a masterpiece of domestic yet mythic realism, at once emotionally engaging and intellectually provocative: an intimately observed testimony to the resilience of the individual to set beside such predecessors as The Falls, Blonde, and We Were the Mulvaneys.

Review:

"At the beginning of Oates's 36th novel, Rebecca Schwart is mistaken by a seemingly harmless man for another woman, Hazel Jones, on a footpath in 1959 Chatauqua Falls, N.Y. Five hundred pages later, Rebecca will find out that the man who accosted her is a serial killer, and Oates will have exercised, in a manner very difficult to forget, two of her recurring themes: the provisionality of identity and the awful suddenness of male violence. There's plenty of backstory, told in retrospect. Rebecca's parents escape from the Nazis with their two sons in 1936; Rebecca is born in the boat crossing over. When Rebecca is 13, her father, Jacob, a sexton in Milburn, N.Y., kills her mother, Anna, and nearly kills Rebecca, before blowing his own head off. At the time of the footpath crossing, Rebecca is just weeks away from being beaten, almost to death, by her husband, Niles Tignor (a shady traveling beer salesman). She and son Niley flee; she takes the name of the woman for whom she has been recently mistaken and becomes Hazel Jones. Niley, a nine-year-old with a musical gift, becomes Zacharias, 'a name from the bible,' Rebecca tells people. Rebecca's Hazel navigates American norms as a waitress, salesperson and finally common-law wife of the heir of the Gallagher media fortune, a man in whom she never confides her past. Oates is our finest novelistic tracker, following the traces of some character's flight from or toward some ultimate violence with forensic precision. There are allusions here to the mythic scouts of James Fenimore Cooper's Leatherstocking Tales, who explored the same New York territory when it was primeval woods. Many of the passages are a lot like a blown-up photo of a bruise — ugly without seeming to have a point. Yet the traumatic pattern of the hunter and the hunted, unfolded in Rebecca/Hazel's lifelong escape, never cripples Hazel: she is liberated, made crafty, deepened by her ultimately successful flight. Like Theodore Dreiser, Oates wears out objections with her characters, drawn in an explosive vernacular. 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. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"In the final lines of Joyce Carol Oates' big new novel, 'The Gravedigger's Daughter,' a cousin writes to a cousin, 'Yet I think I should come to Lake Worth, to see you. Should I?' The blank pages that follow reverberate not only with silence and loss but also — and this is Oates' peculiar magic — with disbelief on the part of the reader that the words could stop, that the question could go unanswered.... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"Some have called this book an urban myth. I see it as a highly personal epic tale, sprawling yet intimate....This may well be Oates' masterpiece. It's obviously a book very close to her heart." Oregonian

Review:

"[A]n amalgam of tedious rehashing and compelling drama....A truly representative sampling of this unpredictable author's grind-it-out strengths and mind-boggling weaknesses." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"[A] novel whose sometimes-intense subject matter...might appear grueling for some, but proves immensely rewarding for the willing....The Gravedigger's Daughter isn't arduous at all. In fact, while it sounds strange to say about a novel so preoccupied with death, it's invigorating." Charlotte Observer

Review:

"The prose gallops along on a loose rein — perhaps too loose. At 582 pages, the narrative can be slack and repetitive, but Oates confidently delivers another very American saga of lurid misfortune. (Grade: B+)" Entertainment Weekly

Review:

"Though clearly meant to have an epic sweep, The Gravedigger's Daughter feels like a four-hour film that should have been cut by 90 minutes....The most compelling aspect of this story is the manner in which the gravedigger's daughter creates a new persona." New York Times

Review:

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

Review:

"Joyce Carol Oates' writing...is spellbinding and raw. She is a mesmerizing storyteller." Denver Post

Review:

"[U]nquestionably one of Oates' finest novels, rendered in taut, vivid language, with an emotional power....She honors her own complex heritage, and that of all Americans, in her extraordinary fiction." Chicago Tribune

Review:

"This book is easy to admire, and difficult to love." Seattle Times

Synopsis:

From one of the greatest literary forces of our time, an intensely realized and masterful epic of a young woman's struggle for identity and survival in post-World War II America.

About the Author

Joyce Carol Oates is the author of the forthcoming The Museum of Dr. Moses: Tales of Mystery and Suspense. She is a recipient of the National Book Award and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction. She is also the recipient of the 2005 Prix Femina for The Falls. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University, and she has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1978.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Deborah Fochler, October 25, 2007 (view all comments by Deborah Fochler)
An epic tale of one womans fight and flight to survive horrible cruelty and violence. At times depressing and hard to read yet you cant help but admire the strength and emotional fortitude of this lady. I hated the way the book ends - with questions. But the entire novel is one big question. Not her best novel but well above your average story.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780061236822
Author:
Oates, Joyce Carol
Publisher:
Ecco
Author:
by Joyce Carol Oates
Author:
Goodwin, Daisy
Subject:
General
Subject:
Family
Subject:
New york (state)
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Psychological fiction
Subject:
General Poetry
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Hardcover
Publication Date:
June 2007
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
592
Dimensions:
11 x 8.5 x 0.25 in 13.92 oz

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

The Gravedigger's Daughter Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$3.50 In Stock
Product details 592 pages Ecco - English 9780061236822 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "At the beginning of Oates's 36th novel, Rebecca Schwart is mistaken by a seemingly harmless man for another woman, Hazel Jones, on a footpath in 1959 Chatauqua Falls, N.Y. Five hundred pages later, Rebecca will find out that the man who accosted her is a serial killer, and Oates will have exercised, in a manner very difficult to forget, two of her recurring themes: the provisionality of identity and the awful suddenness of male violence. There's plenty of backstory, told in retrospect. Rebecca's parents escape from the Nazis with their two sons in 1936; Rebecca is born in the boat crossing over. When Rebecca is 13, her father, Jacob, a sexton in Milburn, N.Y., kills her mother, Anna, and nearly kills Rebecca, before blowing his own head off. At the time of the footpath crossing, Rebecca is just weeks away from being beaten, almost to death, by her husband, Niles Tignor (a shady traveling beer salesman). She and son Niley flee; she takes the name of the woman for whom she has been recently mistaken and becomes Hazel Jones. Niley, a nine-year-old with a musical gift, becomes Zacharias, 'a name from the bible,' Rebecca tells people. Rebecca's Hazel navigates American norms as a waitress, salesperson and finally common-law wife of the heir of the Gallagher media fortune, a man in whom she never confides her past. Oates is our finest novelistic tracker, following the traces of some character's flight from or toward some ultimate violence with forensic precision. There are allusions here to the mythic scouts of James Fenimore Cooper's Leatherstocking Tales, who explored the same New York territory when it was primeval woods. Many of the passages are a lot like a blown-up photo of a bruise — ugly without seeming to have a point. Yet the traumatic pattern of the hunter and the hunted, unfolded in Rebecca/Hazel's lifelong escape, never cripples Hazel: she is liberated, made crafty, deepened by her ultimately successful flight. Like Theodore Dreiser, Oates wears out objections with her characters, drawn in an explosive vernacular. 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. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "Some have called this book an urban myth. I see it as a highly personal epic tale, sprawling yet intimate....This may well be Oates' masterpiece. It's obviously a book very close to her heart."
"Review" by , "[A]n amalgam of tedious rehashing and compelling drama....A truly representative sampling of this unpredictable author's grind-it-out strengths and mind-boggling weaknesses."
"Review" by , "[A] novel whose sometimes-intense subject matter...might appear grueling for some, but proves immensely rewarding for the willing....The Gravedigger's Daughter isn't arduous at all. In fact, while it sounds strange to say about a novel so preoccupied with death, it's invigorating."
"Review" by , "The prose gallops along on a loose rein — perhaps too loose. At 582 pages, the narrative can be slack and repetitive, but Oates confidently delivers another very American saga of lurid misfortune. (Grade: B+)"
"Review" by , "Though clearly meant to have an epic sweep, The Gravedigger's Daughter feels like a four-hour film that should have been cut by 90 minutes....The most compelling aspect of this story is the manner in which the gravedigger's daughter creates a new persona."
"Review" by , "Oates is supremely atmospheric, erotic, and suspenseful in this virtuoso novel of identity, power, and moral reckoning."
"Review" by , "Joyce Carol Oates' writing...is spellbinding and raw. She is a mesmerizing storyteller."
"Review" by , "[U]nquestionably one of Oates' finest novels, rendered in taut, vivid language, with an emotional power....She honors her own complex heritage, and that of all Americans, in her extraordinary fiction."
"Review" by , "This book is easy to admire, and difficult to love."
"Synopsis" by , From one of the greatest literary forces of our time, an intensely realized and masterful epic of a young woman's struggle for identity and survival in post-World War II America.
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