Synopses & Reviews
A celebrated but reclusive author, generally regarded as a somewhat idiosyncratic bachelor, young but in failing health, Joshua Seigl reluctantly admits to himself that he can no longer live alone. Although it goes against his instincts to do so, he must hire an assistant to help him with his increasingly complicated professional and personal affairs. Considering at first only male applicants, he is dissatisfied with everyone he meets.
Then one day at the bookstore he encounters Alma. A young woman with synthetic-looking blond hair and pale, tattooed skin, she stirs something inside Seigl -- pity? desire? responsibility? Though he's uncertain why, he decides she is the one -- she will be his assistant. Unaware of her torturous past -- the abuses she's suffered, the wrongs she's committed, and the hatred that seethes within her -- he has no idea that he is bringing into his home an enemy: an anti-Semite who despises him virulently and unquestioningly. Seigl allows Alma more and more deeply into his life, mindless of the danger she presents. Yet their closeness forces Seigl and Alma to make discoveries that cut to the core of their identities.
With her unique, masterful balance of dark suspense and surprising tenderness, Joyce Carol Oates probes the tragedy of ethnic hatred and challenges accepted limits of desire.
"The wildly prolific Oates takes readers on another long, strange trip to the dark side in typically riveting fashion....Oates, who here creates the atmosphere of a fever dream, gives full rein to her fascination with the perverse side of human nature, and her readers will be mesmerized." Joanne Wilkinson, Booklist
"Oates is onto something with the bruised, malleable figure of Alma...[and Joshua Seigl is] one of Oates's most interesting recent characters. But The Tattooed Girl is flawed by the insistent presences of [two supporting characters] who have nothing like its principals' realness. Better-than-average Oates, all the same." Kirkus Reviews
"Oates writes The Tattooed Girl in a variety of styles, most of them ugly....[W]hen she wants the novel to move, it moves usually when her characters are in the grip of inspiration or dementia; for instance, when Joshua, in temporary remission from his disease, feels a manic grandiosity." Michael Harris, The Los Angeles Times
"Dark, suspenseful, and trace-like...Oates's new novel dances the line between the rational and the mythical....Oates maintains superior control over her novel and its mastery is evident throughout. The Tattooed Girl is worth the time to read it...[it] has all the complex symmetry of a Gothic cathedral." Sarah Cypher, The Oregonian (Portland, OR)
With her unique, masterful balance of dark suspense and surprising tenderness, Oates probes the tragedy of ethnic hatred and challenges accepted limits of desire.
About the Author
Award-winning author, Joyce Carol Oates was born in 1938 and grew up in upstate New York.While a scholarship student at Syracuse University, she won the coveted Mademoiselle
fiction contest. She graduated as valedictorian, then earned an M.A. at the University of Wisconsin.In 1968, she began teaching at the University of Windsor.In 1978, she moved to New Jersey to teach creative writing at Princeton University, where she is now the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities.
A prolific writer, Joyce Carol Oates has produced some of the most controversial, and lasting, fiction of our time.Her novel, them, set in racially volatile 1960s Detroit, won the 1970 National Book Award. Because It Is Bitter, and Because It Is My Heart focused on an interracial teenage romance. Black Water, a narrative based on the Kennedy-Chappaquiddick scandal, garnered a Pulitzer Prize nomination, and her national bestseller Blonde, an epic work on American icon Marilyn Monroe, became a National Book Award Finalist. Although Joyce Carol Oates has called herself, "a serious writer, as distinct from entertainers or propagandists," her novels have enthralled a wide audience, and We Were the Mulvaneys earned the #1 spot on the New York Times bestseller list.