American author Joyce Carol Oates poses for a photo in Jerusalem, Sunday, May 12, 2019. Oates says her family’s denial of its Jewish roots haunted her for decades and has shaped her into the famously prolific writer she is today. Oates, who is making her first-ever trip to Israel to receive the prestigious Jerusalem Prize, said that her Jewish grandmother fled persecution in her native Germany to rural upstate New York in the late 19th century. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

AP Interview: Oates haunted by family denial of Jewish roots

May 12, 2019 - 9:27 am

JERUSALEM (AP) — American author Joyce Carol Oates says her family's denial of its Jewish roots haunted her for decades and has shaped her into the famously prolific writer she is today.

Oates, who is making her first-ever trip to Israel to receive the prestigious Jerusalem Prize, said that her Jewish grandmother fled persecution in her native Germany to rural upstate New York in the late 19th century. But she repressed her trauma and Jewish heritage for the rest of her life.

Oates said her grandmother played an instrumental role in her career choice, giving her a copy of "Alice and Wonderland," a library card and a typewriter when she was a teenager, inspiring her to pursue writing.

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