Because It’s Bitter, and Because It Is My Heart

Finalist, National Book Awards 1990 for Fiction

Because It's Bitter, and Because It Is My Heart by Joyce Carol Oates book cover
ISBN 9780525248606
Plume | Dutton
Photo of Joyce Carol Oates
Joyce Carol Oates

Joyce Carol Oates is the author of more than 70 books, including novels, short story collections, poetry volumes, plays, essays, and criticism, including the national bestsellers We Were the Mulvaneys and Blonde. More about this author >

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Joyce Carol Oates adds to her extraordinary body of work with this stunning novel of violence and love. At the heart of the story are two people, Iris Courtney, who is white, and handsome Jinx Fairchild, the black basketball player who, in protecting Iris, kills a white man.

Iris is the only witness to the crime.

The two of them are growing up in the early 1950s in a New York industrial town where racial boundaries keep people apart—or bring them together in explosive scenes of fear or desire. The secret link between Iris and Jinx is not only their attraction to each other, but a murder … and a bond of passion and guilt is formed between them. How this one irrevocable, tragic act shapes their lives and alters their destinies becomes Joyce Carol Oates’ finest, emotion-packed novel—a work the critics are calling a masterpiece, the best work of America’s best writer of contemporary realism.

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