The Tattooed Girl

Joyce Carol Oates

A celebrated but reclusive author, young but in failing health, Joshua Seigl reluctantly realizes that he can no longer live alone. One day he encounters a young woman with synthetic-looking blond hair and pale, tattooed skin in a bookshop. She stirs something unidentifiable within him – pity? desire? responsibility? He decides that Alma will be his assistant.

An uneasy relationship begins, one which lurches between repulsion and attraction, between hate and love. Seigl is unaware that Alma has been shaped by abuse and misfortune. His kindness is baffling to her; his bookishness completely alien. She secretly harbours anti-Semitic thoughts; he quietly nurses his desire. With terrifying inevitability, their stories wind towards a shocking climax as both Alma and Seigl find themselves struggling to understand what their lives are worth.

With her unique, masterful balance of dark suspense and surprising tenderness, Joyce Carol Oates conveys how easily and treacherously prejudice can snake its way into human relationships.

Reviews of The Tattooed Girl

  • Praise for I’ll Take You There:

    ‘One of the female frontrunners for the title of Great American Novelist…powerful, fresh and as youthful as if Oates were still writing her first thirsty, clear-sighted book, four decades ago.’ Maggie Gee, Sunday Times

    ‘Oates is a writer of extraordinary strengths…she has dealt consistently with what is probably the great American theme – the quest for the creation of self…Her great subject, naturally, is love.’ Ian Sansom, Guardian

    ‘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

    ‘A visceral, spiritual portrait of an extraordinary woman growing in self-awareness. Written with an enthralling combination of sensual perception and intellectual seeking….luminously powerful.’ Rosemay Goring, The Herald

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