Jerusalem, May 12, 2019 – American author Joyce Carol Oates, on Sunday evening, May 12, 2019, received the prestigious 2019 Jerusalem Prize, from the Mayor of Jerusalem Moshe Lion, during the opening ceremony of the Jerusalem International Book Forum and the International Writers Festival, held in the YMCA auditorium.

The 2019 Jerusalem Prize jury members were Dr. Omri Herzog, Professor Shimon Adaf and Dr. Tamar Hess (Chairman). Of the presentation Hess said, “Over the course of more than five decades, Joyce Carol Oates has created a rich body of literary work. Her creative work dictates new creative horizons and denotes a continuous breach of boundaries. Although her work is characterized by an unmistakable voice, she continues to surprise her many readers with the elaborate narratives she creates, as well as the thematic variations of her works. With a deep and profound psychological understanding...”  

Oates, born 1938, is one of the leading and most important living writers in the United States today. During her long literary career, Oates has written many works of fiction, poetry, non-fiction, essays, and plays, and received many prizes.  Among her bestselling titles are We Were the Mulvaneys, a selection of the Oprah Winfrey Book Club, Blonde, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, and The Accursed, a “Gothic” exploration of racism in early 20th century America.  

In her acceptance speech Oates commented on freedom:

On Amos Oz and importance of books:

More than once Oates mentioned her grandmother, Blanche Morgenstern,whose influence shaped her life: 

The love of books from the library shelves and the gift when she was young of a typewriter, which inspired her to write, were from her grandmother whose ancestry is until today a mystery. 

The Jerusalem Prize for the Freedom of the Individual in Society is an award given to international writers whose works have dealt with themes of human freedom in society. The prestigious prize, which was first awarded in 1963, includes an award of $10,000.  The 2017 Jerusalem Prize laureate was Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgaard and previous winners include, among others, Bertrand Russell (in the inaugural year of 1963), Mario Vargas Llosa, Milan Kundera, Simone de Beauvoir, Arthur Miller, Ian McKewan and Susan Sontag.  

For the first time, the Jerusalem International Book Forum and the seventh International Writers Festival combined this year. From May 12-16, 2019, various programs and lectures in Hebrew and English will be presented to the visiting literary representatives from 30 countries and the public, in various locations, mostly in Mishkenot Sha'ananim.