Little Bird of Heaven

Joyce Carol Oates

Set in the mythical small city of Sparta, New York, this searing, vividly rendered exploration of the mysterious conjunction of erotic romance and tragic violence in late 20th-century America. When a young wife and mother named Zoe Kruller is found brutally murdered, the Sparta police target two primary suspects: her estranged husband Delray and her longtime lover Eddy Diehl. In turn, the Krullers’s son Aaron and Eddy’s daughter Krista become obsessed with one another, each believing the other’s father is guilty. Told in halves in the very different voices of Krista and Aaron, Little Bird of Heaven is classic Joyce Carol Oates, in which the lyricism of intense sexual love is intertwined with the anguish of loss, and tenderness is barely distinguishable from cruelty. By the novel’s end, the fated lovers, meeting again as adults, are at last ready to exorcise the ghosts of the past and come to terms with their legacy of guilt, misplaced love and redemptive yearning. With Little Bird of Heaven, Joyce Carol Oates once again confirms her place as one of the most outstanding writers at work today.

Reviews of Little Bird of Heaven

  • ‘The book is suffused with the grey, ambient unease in which Oates specialises; she’s one of our creepiest writers, a kind of feminist Poe with a working-class sensibility’ Guardian

    ‘Another step in Oates’s progress towards the title of Great American Novelist.’ Independent

    ‘There are…glimpses of brilliance, and Oates is sympathetic to the animals we all, at times, become’ Daily Mail

    ‘An absorbing study of lust, trust, and an unsolved murder, Oates’s gritty new mystery explores the attraction between the son of the victim and daughter of the accused’ Good Housekeeping

    ‘Her prose is peerless and her ability to make you think as she re-invents genres is unique. Few writers move so effortlessly from the gothic tale to the psychological thriller to the epic family saga to the lyrical novella. Even fewer authors can so compellingly and entertainingly tell a story.’ Jackie McGlone, Scotland on Sunday

    ‘Novelists such as John Updike, Philip Roth, Tom Wolfe and Norman Mailer slug it out for the title of the Great American Novelist. But maybe they’re wrong. Maybe, just maybe, the Great American Novelist is a woman.’ Herald

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