I haven't mentioned Joyce Carol Oates here in recent weeks but I've been quietly wondering when she would release a new book. After all, this is the most prolific high-quality writer that I know of, a very good thing for me since I'm a huge fan of her work, and her next book, based upon her own unique standard, is overdue.
Now I see in yesterday's Sun Sentinel interview that Ms. Oates is having a difficult time adjusting to the sudden and unexpected loss in February 2008 of her husband of almost 50 years. Raymond Smith, according to Ms. Oates was perhaps the main reason that she has been able to write so many books and plays since they married in 1961. Now that she is alone in dealing with all the financial and household chores that Smith took care of for so many years, she has far less time to write. I, for one, am extremely grateful for the role that Raymond Smith played in the literary career of Joyce Carol Oates.
Just look at a few of the things she's accomplished in the last five decades:
48 novels written in her name or in one of her two pen namesThese numbers are taken from the informal checklist of her work that I use from time-to-time to add to my Joyce Carol Oates collection (some 81 books plus a few books about Oates), so the numbers are only my best approximation.
34 short story collections
Numerous plays and play collections
At least 8 books of poetry
At least 10 essay collections
At least 7 children or young adult books
Numerous other non-fiction and editorial works
Stories and novels made into movies and television plays
National Book Award winner in 1970
14 other award nominations (National Book Award, Pen/Faulkner, Pulitzer, etc.)
And the latest: making this year's Man Booker International Prize long list (included in the count directly above)