Joyce Carol Oates Interview: Speaking of the Devil

“American history has a kind of tragic cyclical nature to it.” A thought-provoking interview with American writer Joyce Carol Oates, who ponders on how the concept of ‘devils’ has always been predominant in American society.

Oates discusses her novel ‘The Accursed’, which takes place in the early twentieth century but has clear contemporary resonances. She refers to demons and the need to demonize others, arguing that what was once called ‘devils’ was later termed ‘communists’ and now ‘terrorists’: “We have some build-in leanings towards paranoia – fear of the other – but as I say, that doesn’t have the whole story of society, because society can be educated and we can rise above that – and many people have risen above that.”

On her impressive work ethic, Oates credits her many cats, which have sometimes forced her to write for ten hours at a time: “If you try to get up, the cat puts its claws down.”

Joyce Carol Oates (b. 1938) is an award-winning American author, who has published a large number of novels, plays, novellas, short stories, poetry and nonfiction. Among her books are ‘them’ (1969), ‘Black Water’ (1992), ‘Demon and other tales’ (1996), ‘Blonde’ (2000), ‘The Falls’ (2004), ‘Black Dahlia & White Rose’ (2012) and ‘The Accursed’ (2013), which writer Stephen King described as “the world’s first postmodern Gothic novel.” She has won the National Book Award (1969), two O. Henry Awards, the National Humanities Medal (2010), the Norman Mailer Prize (2012) and many more. Three of her novels, ‘Black Water’ (1992), ‘What I Lived For’ (1994) and ‘Blonde’ (2000), have been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.

Joyce Carol Oates was interviewed by Kim Skotte at the Louisiana Literature festival at Louisiana Museum of Modern art in 2014. During the interview she reads from her novel ‘The Accursed’ (2013).

Camera: Klaus Elmer & Nikolaj Jungersen
Edited by: Kamilla Bruus
Produced by: Kasper Bech Dyg
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2015

Supported by Nordea-fonden


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