See also: Recently published stories, essays, poems, and other articles by Joyce Carol Oates.

book coverExtenuating Circumstances

By Joyce Carol Oates
Expected publication date: May 10, 2022

book coverBabysitter

By Joyce Carol Oates
Expected publication date: August 23, 2022


By Joyce Carol Oates
Expected publication date: ??

I am immersed in a short novel about J. Marion Sims, the famous/infamous “father of modern gynecology,” who experimented on enslaved Black women and children in the 1840s in Montgomery, Alabama, allowing him to discover a way to repair fistulas in afflicted girls and women following difficult childbirths. My character both is and isn’t the historic Sims—his name is Syms. Sims’s most exploited subject, Anarcha Westcott, appears in my narrative as Arelia. Though the novel is based for the most part on actual events, the tone is rather more a hallucinatory sort of realism than strict realism. The title is, appropriately, Butcher.

We see from Sims’s autobiography, The Story of My Life, published posthumously in 1884, how an individual of more than average intelligence and vision—seen by himself and others of his acquaintance as a “good” Christian husband and father—could, at the same time, function as an absolute racist, as indifferent to his subjects’ suffering as presumably Descartes would have been to the suffering of animals, since Descartes believed that animals were just machines, without sensation. Yet Sims was widely honored in his own time, and a controversial and quite ugly statue of him was only just recently removed from Central Park.

—JCO, New York Review of Books

Forthcoming WorksImage by Alicia A.L.


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