Carthage - Joyce Carol Oates

Carthage

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A young girl's disappearance rocks a community and a family, in this stirring examination of grief, faith, justice and the atrocities of war, from literary legend Joyce Carol Oates.

Zeno Mayfield's daughter has disappeared into the night, gone missing in the wilds of the Adirondacks. But when the community of Carthage joins a father's frantic search for the girl, they discover instead the unlikeliest of suspects - a decorated Iraq War veteran with close ties to the Mayfield family. As grisly evidence mounts against the troubled war hero, the family must wrestle with the possibility of having lost a daughter forever.

Carthage plunges us deep into the psyche of a wounded young Corporal, haunted by unspeakable acts of wartime aggression, while unraveling the story of a disaffected young girl whose exile from her family may have come long before her disappearance. Dark and riveting, Carthage is a powerful addition to the Joyce Carol Oates canon, one that explores the human capacity for violence, love and forgiveness, and asks if it's ever truly possible to come home again.

About the Author

Joyce Carol Oates is a recipient of the National Book Award and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction. She has written some of the most enduring fiction of our time, including We Were the Mulvaneys, which was an Oprah Book Club Choice, and Blonde, which was nominated for the National Book Award. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of Humanities at Princeton University.

Read Caroline Baum's Review

There’s something relentless, and bleak and taut that makes Joyce Carol Oates’ Carthage compelling as a snapshot of small town American angst. It’s the story of what happens when Cressida Mayfield a young woman who is the intelligent sister as opposed to the pretty one goes missing - and the last person she was seen with was her sister’s fiancé, newly returned form the war in Iraq where he was severely disabled.

Oates has long been an explorer of the dark soul of her country. Here she focusses on the implosion of a family, wielding her controlled prose like a scalpel, dissecting the flesh and the psyche and degrees of responsibility of the Mayfields with detached and chilly precision. It’s disturbing, unsettling and lethally effective, though I wouldn’t call the experience enjoyable.