Mudwoman

Joyce Carol Oates

Mudgirl is a child abandoned by her mother in the silty flats of the Black Snake River. Cast aside, Mudgirl survives by an accident of fate – or destiny. Only when she is adopted by a Quaker family does she begin to suppress those painful memories.

Meredith ‘M. R.’ Neukirchen is the first woman president of a prestigious Ivy League university whose commitment to her career and moral fervor are all-consuming. But with an emergent political crisis and a prolonged secret love affair, M. R. has to confront challenges to her professional leadership which test her in ways she could not have expected. The fierce idealism and intelligence that delivered her from a more conventional life in her hometown now threaten to undo her.

When she makes a trip upstate, M. R. Neukirchen is thrust into an unexpected psychic collision with Mudgirl and the life M. R. believes she has left behind. A powerful exploration of the enduring claims of the past, ‘Mudwoman’ is at once a psychic ghost story and the heartbreaking portrait of an individual who breaks – but finds a way to heal herself.

Reviews of Mudwoman

  • ‘Shot through with menace and subtlety…Mudwoman is a genuinely unsettling book in which Oates pays her reader the compliment of never letting them settle or even being entirely sure about what they have just read. For a young novelist, this kind of risk-taking would be admirable; for a 73-year-old with more than 50 novels to her name, it is extraordinary’ Financial Times

    ‘A chilling, beautifully written ghost story about the power of the past’ The Times

    ‘Oates is a dangerous writer in the best sense of the word, one who takes risks almost obsessively with energy and relish… As if her aim were not to satisfy or entertain – though she always does both – but to do the vandalistic prose equivalent of spray-painting or setting fire to bins in public parks.’ New York Times

    ‘We think of Oates, like Poe, as a master of terror, but her real mastery is in almost never depicting a strong emotion in isolation… Oates [is]… a fearless experimenter forcing the reader ahead of her at knifepoint’ Los Angeles Times

    ‘This is an intriguing and bold novel about the flip side of success, and the sexual and psychological violence on the female psyche’ Emma Hagestadt, Independent

More from Joyce Carol Oates