Joyce Carol Oates always has a story to tell.
The famously prolific writer has published more than 40 novels in a career spanning more than half a century, picking up such accolades as the National Medal of Humanities, the National Book Award, and multiple Pulitzer Prize nominations along the way.
The celebrated author’s latest work, which she will launch at powerHouse Arena in Dumbo on Jan. 22, comes in the form of “Carthage,” a characteristically dark and violent novel that follows the disappearance of a young girl, her father’s frantic search, and a decorated Iraq War veteran who becomes a central suspect.
Oates had the novel kicking around in her head and in her notes for years before publishing it this month.
“It was generated by a double story — the passionate but futile love of an intelligent young woman for her older sister’s fiance, an Iraqi War hero; the story of the ‘war hero’ and his difficult readjustment to the life he had left behind,” said Oates via email. “Like most of my novels, ‘Carthage’ is intended as a portrait of a society and a moral examination of its citizens.”
Even if you have never read a book by Oates, chances are you have read something by one of her pupils. A professor at Princeton College since 1978, she has taught the likes of Jonathan Ames, Whitney Terrell, Alex Gansa (of “Homeland” fame), and Jennifer Weiner, among many others. Oates was also notably the advisor to Brooklynite Jonathan Safran Foer for his senior thesis, which grew into “Everything Is Illuminated.”
“I follow Jonathan’s career closely,” said Oates. “I have probably read everything he has published.”
Beyond books, the writer is also considerably prolific in another medium — Twitter. On any given day, she might quote Dylan Thomas, retweet a photo of Johnny Cash, and join in a conversation on media criticism. The author said she enjoys the social media service because it allows her to indulge so many interests.
“If you follow women’s rights, animal rights, sharp-tongued/left-leaning comedians (of whom there are many) as well as the inimitable Steve Martin; if you are interested in absolutely up-to-date news; if you are interested in reliable succinct assessments of new movies, books, museum exhibits — all these Twitters are available, plus more,” said Oates.
Joyce Carol Oates celebrates the release of “Carthage” at powerHouse Arena [37 Main St. at Water Street in Dumbo, (718) 666–3049, www.powerhousearena.com], Jan. 22 at 7 pm. Free.