The Accursed

Joyce Carol Oates

New Jersey, 1905: soon-to-be commander-in-chief Woodrow Wilson is president of Princeton University. On a nearby farm, Socialist author Upton Sinclair, enjoying the success of his novel ‘The Jungle’, has taken up residence with his family. This is a quiet, bookish community – elite, intellectual and indisputably privileged.

But when a savage lynching in a nearby town is hushed up, a horrifying chain of events is initiated – until it becomes apparent that the families of Princeton have been beset by a powerful curse. The Devil has come to this little town and not a soul will be spared.

‘The Accursed’ marks new territory for the masterful Joyce Carol Oates – narrated with her unmistakable psychological insight, it combines beautifully transporting historical detail with chilling fantastical elements to stunning effect.

Reviews of The Accursed

  • ‘Oates has written what may be the world’s first postmodern Gothic novel… dense, challenging, problematic, horrifying, funny, prolix and full of crazy people. You should read it …feverishly entertaining’ Stephen King, New York Times Book Review

    ‘A belated candidate for the Great Oates Novel … a big, mad, colourful romp, respectful of the literary traditions in which it participates, leavened with a piquant humour. It may not be the definitive work to crown the singularly fascinating Oates oeuvre but, for the uninitiated, it is a great place to begin’ David Evans, Financial Times

    ‘Enthralling … it is both a commentary on the art of Gothic fiction, and a marvellously sustained piece of Gothic writing itself. We await the next novel with renewed excitement’ Stephen Abell, Sunday Telegraph

    ‘Oates is not a genre writer, but like most writers sincerely engaged in the job of telling stories, she isn’t afraid of genre motifs, and ‘The Accursed’ is packed to the gills with them …a large number of the narrative riffs are powerful and absorbing…it’s clear throughout these six hundred-plus pages that, as always, Oates intimately knows her characters and the worlds they inhabit’ Literary Review

    ‘This is Postmodern Gothic at its most supreme, a riotous yet scholarly ride through turn-of-the-20th century Princeton … Oates is having great baroque fun here, but the scholarly range of her tale is astonishing as she again makes the combination of research and risk-taking look natural and easy’ Lesley McDowell, Independent on Sunday

    ‘A thrilling tale in the best gothic tradition, a lesson in master craftsmanship…The story sprawls, reaches, demands, tears, and shrieks in homage to the traditional gothic, yet with fresh, surprising twists and turns… Hang on for the ride’ Publishers Weekly

    ‘Gothic, macabre epic’ Observer

More from Joyce Carol Oates