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A Book of American Martyrs
by Joyce Carol Oates


Overview -

"Oates' American saga captivates because it exists within an actual drama playing out across the country...Martyrs is a graceful and excruciating story of two families who do not live very far apart, but exist in different realities. " -- USA Today , 4-star review

"Successful because Oates] refuses to satirize or dehumanize anyone, even murderous foes of abortion...With its wrath and violence, A Book of American Martyrs offers this teaspoon of warmth in these troubled times: that it is possible to be wrong without surrendering your humanity." -- Los Angeles Times

"The most relevant book of Oates's half-century-long career, a powerful reminder that fiction can be as timely as this morning's tweets but infinitely more illuminating." -- Washington Post

A powerfully resonant and provocative novel from American master and New York Times bestselling author Joyce Carol Oates

In this striking, enormously affecting novel, Joyce Carol Oates tells the story of two very different and yet intimately linked American families.  Read more...


 
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More About A Book of American Martyrs by Joyce Carol Oates
 
 
 
Overview

"Oates' American saga captivates because it exists within an actual drama playing out across the country...Martyrs is a graceful and excruciating story of two families who do not live very far apart, but exist in different realities. " --USA Today, 4-star review

"Successful because Oates] refuses to satirize or dehumanize anyone, even murderous foes of abortion...With its wrath and violence, A Book of American Martyrs offers this teaspoon of warmth in these troubled times: that it is possible to be wrong without surrendering your humanity." --Los Angeles Times

"The most relevant book of Oates's half-century-long career, a powerful reminder that fiction can be as timely as this morning's tweets but infinitely more illuminating." --Washington Post

A powerfully resonant and provocative novel from American master and New York Times bestselling author Joyce Carol Oates

In this striking, enormously affecting novel, Joyce Carol Oates tells the story of two very different and yet intimately linked American families. Luther Dunphy is an ardent Evangelical who envisions himself as acting out God's will when he assassinates an abortion provider in his small Ohio town while Augustus Voorhees, the idealistic but self-regarding doctor who is killed, leaves behind a wife and children scarred and embittered by grief.

In her moving, insightful portrait, Joyce Carol Oates fully inhabits the perspectives of two interwoven families whose destinies are defined by their warring convictions and squarely-but with great empathy-confronts an intractable, abiding rift in American society.

A Book of American Martyrs is a stunning, timely depiction of an issue hotly debated on a national stage but which makes itself felt most lastingly in communities torn apart by violence and hatred.


 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780062643049
  • ISBN-10: 0062643045
  • Publisher: Ecco Press
  • Publish Date: February 2017
  • Page Count: 752
  • Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.2 x 1.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.15 pounds


Related Categories

Books > Fiction > Psychological
Books > Fiction > Literary

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2016-12-12
  • Reviewer: Staff

On Nov. 2, 1999 in Muskegee Falls, Ohio, a self-described soldier of God named Luther Dunphy loads a shotgun, drives to an abortion clinic near his home, and guns down Dr. Augustus Voorhees as he arrives at work. In this chilling novel, bestselling author Oates (Carthage) approaches one of Americas enduringly divisive topics through the lens of a sprawling family epic. The bulk of the novel deals with the shootings aftermath and its impact on the daughters of Dunphy and Voorheestwo women whose lives are permanently shifted by their fathers legacy for opposite sides of the contentious abortion-rights debate. Divided into five sections, the book begins by delving into the lives of Dunphy (now on death row) and Voorhees before the narrative finally coalesces around Naomi Voorheess floundering attempts to understand her family, leading her to a career in documentary filmmaking and a surprising connection with Dawn The Hammer of Jesus Dunphy, whose anger and aggression propel her into a championship-level boxing career. Unfortunately, some of the emotional nuance is thinly developed, with the majority of the characters standing as archetypes of opposing worldviews. Nevertheless, Oatess sprawling tale presents a sensitively painted portrait of the inextricable quality of grief and the weight of family legacy, showing how unexpected connections can bind people together in counterintuitive ways. (Feb.)

 
BookPage Reviews

A portrait of both sides of America's most contentious issue

Some of our best artists seem blessed with a type of clairvoyance, or at least a deep understanding of the zeitgeist that feels like clairvoyance. This seems especially true of Joyce Carol Oates, who’s taken our peculiarly American darkness as her subject matter throughout her career. In her latest, A Book of American Martyrs, Oates is at her most incisive, wrenching and timely.

When extremist Luther Dunphy murders OB/GYN Augustus Voorhees and his driver, it’s clear that the two are American martyrs—but they are only ground zero. Their martyrdom spreads out in circles, like hard radiation, to make collateral damage of wives, children, parents, siblings and innocent bystanders. Even Dunphy is a martyr of sorts. He goes quietly when the cops come for him; he doesn’t plead for his life when he faces the death penalty. But Oates understands that “martyr” doesn’t mean “saint.” Both men are unyielding in their beliefs: For the evangelical Christian Dunphy, abortion is murder; for the atheist Voorhees, a woman’s right to her body is inviolable.

Even as she anatomizes this latest American schism, Oates touches on her usual obsessions. We have the almost casual brutality with which men treat women. Parents fail in a million ways, but only mothers are not forgiven for it. Pregnancy and childbirth are, at best, biological tragedies. There’s boxing. Yet Oates finds a path to empathy, compassion and perhaps even reconciliation. Once again, Oates proves that she remains one of our most necessary authors.

This article was originally published in the February 2017 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

 
BAM Customer Reviews