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

  • ‘The storytelling is extraordinary…A completely gripping tale told in an almost manically propulsive style.’ Guardian

    ‘When you start a Joyce Carol Oates novel, you know you’re in good hands. Her writing is original and effortless and she never disappoints. The Tattooed Girl is no exception.’ Sunday Express

    ‘A fine writer at the top of her form.’ Sunday Telegraph

    ‘Polished and taut’
    Daily Telegraph

    ‘The Tattooed Girl is as startlingly sharp as it is tender…the pain of the inarticulate is given a voice so piercingly real it prickles the blood.’

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