The Writer as Witness
Joyce Carol Oates and Linn Ullmann
Due to high demand, Litteraturhuset has moved the event to Det norske teatret (Kristian IVs gate 8).
Joyce Carol Oates is among the world’s most critically acclaimed writers and a frequent favorite for the Nobel Prize of literature. It is indeed a special occasion when she visits Norway for the first time.
Joyce Carol Oates has made her mark as a keen observer of American society. As she herself sees it, it is the duty of the writer “to examine the sources of injustice and to explore the consequences of a political system exploiting, and a culture repressing women and minorities.” Oates writes about violence, social injustice and the subjugation of women with an eye for the political and historical, combined with psychological insight and a literary precision rich in imagery. Idealism and dreams are confronted with a brutal reality. With immense tenderness, she portrays the human beings on the margins, often times the young, vulnerable women whose marginalization and disappearance society tacitly accepts.
In My Life as a Rat, we meet the young girl Violet Rue, banished by her own family after ratting out her brothers’ hate crime, committed against a black student. This is not the first time Oates writes fiction rooted in real people and events. Her 1992 novella Black Water revolves around the 1969 Chappaquiddick accident, in which Senator Edward Kennedy ran off the road and into the water, leaving the young female passenger to die, while he himself left the crime scene.
In total, the American master has published close to a hundred books spanning a variety of genres. She teaches short fiction at the University of California, Berkeley, and has been a mentor for numerous writers, such as Jonathan Safran Foer and Mohsin Hamid. When Litteraturhuset presents Oates for the first time in Norway, the event will be on the main stage of Det Norske Teatret. In a conversation with writer colleague Linn Ullmann, Oates will discuss her extensive body of work and long writing life committed to the power of literature.