“Oates is just a fearless writer…with her brave heart and her impossibly lush and dead-on imaginative powers.”
—Los Angeles Times
“[An] extraordinarily intense, racking, and resonant novel.”
—Booklist (starred review)
One of the most acclaimed writers in the world today, the inimitable Joyce Carol Oates follows up her searing, New York Times bestselling memoir, A Widow’s Story, with an extraordinary new work of fiction. Mudwoman is a riveting psychological thriller, taut with dark suspense, that explores the high price of repression in the life of a respected university president teetering on the precipice of a nervous breakdown. Like Daphne DuMaurier’s gothic masterwork, Rebecca, and the classic ghost story, The Turn of the Screw, by Henry James, Oates’s Mudwoman is a chilling page-turner that hinges on the power of the imagination and the blurry lines between the real and the invented—and it stands tall among the author’s most powerful and beloved works, including The Falls, The Gravedigger’s Daughter, and We Were the Mulvaneys.
Oates begins her 38th novel with a nod to Nietzsche ( What is man? A ball of snakes ) that lies at the mud-caked heart of this tale of the rise and stumbling fall of M.R. Neukirchen, a brilliant academic whose childhood starts in the mudflats of the Black Snake River, where she is abandoned in 1965. But by 2002, M.R. has reached the top of the ivory tower. After a full ride to Cornell, and a Ph.D. from Harvard, she is now, at 41, the first female president of another Ivy institution. M.R. s ambitious plans include upending the patriarchy and increasing diversity on campus, but both prove difficult in the post-9/11 era of Patriotism as the U.S. prepares to invade Iraq. M.R. s identity, idealism, and sanity are all threatened as she wades through obstacles, including sabotaging right-wing colleagues and students. Though she has never considered herself the victim of sexism, M.R. must confront her gender when it becomes the lens through which her leadership is judged. Likewise, the philosophical question she has dedicated her career to answering what is the self? must be turned inward. Oates s prose, dominated by run-on sentences to imitate fury or swiftness and a colloquial voice lacking nuance, is uninspired, but fans will relish the depth of this inquiry.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Love the cover. Love the title. Love the sample chapters. Looks like Joyce Carol Oats has another winner on her hands. The subject matter is compelling, especially in light of the fine work done by Judith Rodin, Shirley Tighman and Amy Gutmann.
Perhaps I'm wrong, but it doesn't look like I can get this on my iPad. Oh well! Looking forward to reading the complete novel.