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Some authors spend decades crafting one serious novel at a time, waiting with bated breath to find out whether their solitary contribution will be well-received by critics and the general public. Joyce Carol Oates, one of the grand dames of American literature, doesn’t operate that way: She’s published nearly 100 novels, plays, and pieces of nonfiction in her half-century-long career, often working on several books at once. And while that much output might cause some to wonder if she had outside help, the only ghosts present in her work exist within her new novel, The Accursed. Oates began writing the fictional account of a turn-of-the-century haunted New Jersey mansion in 1984 and it appears that the nearly three-decade wait was worth it. The book is, by almost all accounts, excellent—the New York Times called it “the world’s first postmodern Gothic novel.” At 74, she’s still breaking new ground and mentoring the next generation of great novelists as a professor at Princeton. Take the opportunity to see her in an intimate setting at Politics & Prose. Perhaps she’ll reveal the reasons behind her productivity.
Joyce Carol Oates reads at 7 p.m. at Politics & Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 364-1919. politics-prose.com.