Joyce Carol Oates

Joyce Carol Oates is a prolific American author known for her vast body of work, which includes novels, short stories, poetry, and essays. Her writing often explores themes of identity, sexuality, and violence, and she has received numerous awards for her literary contributions, including the National Book Award.


This list of books are ONLY the books that have been ranked on the lists that are aggregated on this site. This is not a comprehensive list of all books by this author.

  1. 1. Them

    "Them" is a novel that chronicles the lives of the Wendall family, a lower-class family living in Detroit, over the course of three decades. The story, told from the perspective of three main characters, explores their struggles with poverty, violence, and a constant desire for a better life. It also delves into the societal issues of the time, including racial tensions and the disillusionment of the American Dream. The narrative is a gritty, realistic depiction of the hardships faced by many families in urban America during the mid-20th century.

  2. 2. Blonde

    The novel is a fictionalized account of the life of one of Hollywood's most enduring and enigmatic icons, Marilyn Monroe. It reimagines her life from her troubled childhood as Norma Jeane Baker through her rise to stardom and her tragic demise. The book delves into the complexities of her inner life, exploring her relationships, her struggles with fame, and her quest for love and identity. It presents a psychological portrait that blends fact with speculation, capturing the dichotomy between the public persona of the blonde bombshell and the private experiences of a woman both blessed and cursed by her beauty and allure.

  3. 3. Because It Is Bitter, And Because It Is My Heart

    The novel delves into the complexities of race, family, and morality in a small town in upstate New York during the 1950s and 1960s. It follows the intertwined lives of a white girl from a dysfunctional family and an African American boy from a stable, loving home who become bound together by a violent act that shapes their future. As they grow up, each struggles with the weight of the secret they share and the racial tensions of their community, while trying to find their own paths to redemption and understanding amidst the societal pressures and personal hardships they face.

  4. 4. Black Water

    "Black Water" is a fictional account of a young woman's tragic death in a car accident. The novel is inspired by the infamous Chappaquiddick incident, where a young woman drowned when a senator drove his car off a bridge. The story unfolds from the perspective of the woman, revealing her thoughts and experiences in a stream-of-consciousness style as she remembers her life and the moments leading up to the accident. The narrative also explores the power dynamics and abuses that can occur in relationships between older, powerful men and younger, vulnerable women.

  5. 5. Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?

    The story centers on a teenage girl who, caught between the vanity of adolescence and the desire for adulthood, finds herself the target of a menacing stranger. With her family away, the protagonist encounters a charismatic but dangerous man who arrives at her home and attempts to coax her into his car. As the narrative unfolds, the girl is drawn into a tense and psychological game of cat and mouse that explores themes of identity, sexuality, and vulnerability. The story is a chilling examination of the transition from adolescence to adulthood and the perils that can accompany that journey.