Cover image for Because it is bitter, and because it is my heart
Title:
Because it is bitter, and because it is my heart
Author:
Oates, Joyce Carol, 1938-
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : E.P. Dutton, [1990]

©1990
General Note:
"A William Abrahams book."
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780525248606
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

Joyce Carol Oates adds to her extraordinary body of work with this stunning novel of violence and love. At the heart of the story are two people, Iris Courtney, who is white, and handsome Jinx Fairchild, the black basketball player who, in protecting Iris, kills a white man. Iris is the only witness to the crime. The two of them are growing up in the early 1950s in a New York industrial town where racial boundaries keep people apart-or bring them together in explosive scenes of fear or desire. The secret link between Iris and Jinx is not only their attraction to each other, but a murder ... and a bond of passion and guilt is formed between them. How this one irrevocable, tragic act shapes their lives and alters their destinies becomes Joyce Carol Oates' finest, emotion-packed novel-a work the critics are calling a masterpiece, the best work of America's best writer of contemporary realism.


Author Notes

Joyce Carol Oates was born on June 16, 1938 in Lockport, New York. She received a bachelor's degree in English from Syracuse University and a master's degree in English from the University of Wisconsin.

She is the author of numerous novels and collections of short stories. Her works include We Were the Mulvaneys, Blonde, Bellefleur, You Must Remember This, Because It Is Bitter, Because It Is My Heart, Solstice, Marya : A Life, and Give Me Your Heart. She has received numerous awards including the National Book Award for Them, the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction, and the F. Scott Fitzgerald Award for Lifetime Achievement in American Literature. She was a finalist for the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction with her title Lovely, Dark, Deep. She also wrote a series of suspense novels under the pseudonym Rosamond Smith. In 2015, her novel The Accursed became listed as a bestseller on the iBooks chart.

She worked as a professor of English at the University of Windsor, before becoming the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of Humanities at Princeton University. She and her late husband Raymond J. Smith operated a small press and published a literary magazine, The Ontario Review.

(Bowker Author Biography) Joyce Carol Oates is one of the most eminent and prolific literary figures and social critics of our times. She has won the National Book Award and several O. Henry and Pushcart prizes. Among her other awards are an NEA grant, a Guggenheim fellowship, the PEN/Malamud Lifetime Achievement Award, and the F. Scott Fitzgerald Award for Lifetime Achievement in American Literature.

(Publisher Provided)


Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Murder galvanizes an industrial town in upstate New York when a husky red-haired corpse is fished from a polluted river in 1956. With sure strokes, Oates ( American Appetites ) delineates the racial hatreds leading to the crime that then entangles black basketball hero Verlyn (``Jinx'') Fairchild and blonde Iris Courtney. Their coming of age from the mid-'50s to the mid-'60s--in the shadow of the civil rights struggle and John F. Kennedy's assassination--their love and their unpremeditated complicity in the town's violence are brilliantly portrayed. Jinx, appealing in his ``innocence and impotence,'' can't help himself or his brother, Sugar Baby, wrecked by drug dealing. Iris, alert, locked into icy detachment, watches Jinx suffer, while her own alcoholic mother and gambling father drift apart. Blotting out her problems, Iris sleepwalks into the household of the exotic Savages, art historians who prize her beauty. Oates is a master at realizing the social forces that twist the fates of her characters. BOMC dual main selection. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

The ever-prolific Oates is on familiar ground in her newest novel, which treats the seedy side of a working-class city in upstate New York in the 1950s. Her heroine will be familiar to Oates fans, too: Iris Courtney is the only child of a broken home, gambling father, and alcoholic mother; she's waif-like, intelligent, and sensitive and carries with her the air of a victim. When a black classmate--handsome, academic, athletic Jinx Fairchild--murders mean ``white trash'' Little Red Garlock to protect Iris from Red's lewd advances, Iris carries the secret through her adolescence. The Courtney, Garlock, and Fairchild families are here used to explore racism at a time of awakening social consciousness, but Iris alone seems fully imagined. A large, significant work that will please Oates fans. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 12/89.-- Ann H. Fisher, Radford P.L., Va. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.