The Gravedigger's Daughter: A Novel

The Gravedigger s Daughter A Novel Fleeing Nazi Germany in the Schwarts immigrate to a small town in upstate New York Here the father a former high school teacher is demeaned by the only job he can get gravedigger and cemetery ca

  • Title: The Gravedigger's Daughter: A Novel
  • Author: Joyce Carol Oates
  • ISBN: 9780061744723
  • Page: 428
  • Format: ebook
  • Fleeing Nazi Germany in 1936, the Schwarts immigrate to a small town in upstate New York Here the father a former high school teacher is demeaned by the only job he can get gravedigger and cemetery caretaker When local prejudice and the family s own emotional frailty give rise to an unthinkable tragedy, the gravedigger s daughter, Rebecca heads out into America EmbarkiFleeing Nazi Germany in 1936, the Schwarts immigrate to a small town in upstate New York Here the father a former high school teacher is demeaned by the only job he can get gravedigger and cemetery caretaker When local prejudice and the family s own emotional frailty give rise to an unthinkable tragedy, the gravedigger s daughter, Rebecca heads out into America Embarking upon an extraordinary odyssey of erotic risk and ingenious self invention, she seeks renewal, redemption, and peace on the road to a bittersweet and distinctly American triumph.

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    About " Joyce Carol Oates "

  • Joyce Carol Oates

    Joyce Carol Oates is a recipient of the National Book Award and the PEN Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction She is also the recipient of the 2005 Prix Femina for The Falls She is the Roger S Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University, and she has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1978 Pseudonyms Rosamond Smith and Lauren Kelly.


  • (Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally.)So what's the dark fear that lies in the inner heart of all erudite nerds? Namely this -- that no matter how educated, intelligent or well-read you are, there are always going to be a certain amount of very well-known authors you have never read at all, not even one single page of, and that at any moment [...]

  • This was obviously a very beautiful book, coming from Joyce Carol Oates. It deals with Rebecca, the gravedigger's daughter, whose family moved to America just before the 2nd World War started. In many ways, this is a coming-of-age story because we get to hear about Rebecca's life from she's an infant till she's a grown woman. However, Oates' structure is beautifully puzzling as she starts the novel when Rebecca is in her twenties, on her way home from work. This is a story about struggles and ho [...]

  • This book would have had much higher marks from me if it would have ended differently.This is my first Joyce Carol Oates read and was for a face to face bookclub. In general I'm not drawn to "women in jepordy" stories but I'm always willing to give something new a try.I was drawn to the character Rebecca and wanted to see her life work out for the better. And ultimately things did get better for her. She finally did re-marry although she was permenently damaged from her first husband.The worst t [...]

  • I guess I liked this book, but reading it once is plenty for me. It was very well-written, but I just could not handle how ungodly depressing it was. Honestly, the main character can't seem to go ten pages without getting the shit kicked out of her (literally and figuratively) by all the Mean Bad Men in her life. First there's her father, who goes apeshit when his daughter dares to enter a spelling bee (I still don't get that); then there's her husband, who chooses beating the shit out of her as [...]

  • Once again, I must diverge from the critics who loved this Joyce Carol Oates novel. Apparently I didn't learn my lesson with "We Were the Mulvaneys." I don't know where to start, so I'll just list the major problems: a bloated and disjointed narrative, overwrought prose, and a nonsensical epilogue. Good times

  • A character's worst fear should be to appear in a Joyce Carol Oates novel. It's pretty well guaranteed his or her like is going to suck.Still, though, I keep picking them up. And as decently written as they may be, I'm miserable right along with everyone else. There's never a glimmer of hope, a break from the compounding gloom. As a reader, the weight lands firmly on your shoulders for the length of the book. Join us for a walk of pain.Gravedigger's Daughter is no exception. I felt for the prota [...]

  • I've not read a great deal of Joyce Carol Oates' copious publication list, but the Gravedigger's Daughter seems to be at the more reserved, conventional end of her spectrum. It is the story of a lifetime, a classic American lifetime from blighted immigrant upbringing to eventual success, or success-through-children as is often the case. In the meantime, much contemplation of the perils of being a women, and of being a single mother, and of being a foreigner. Of perseverance and the loneliness of [...]

  • This is a book about identity, about coming to terms with your past and being who you are. About family, battered women and their husbands. About the immigrant experience.Oates details the story of Rebecca Schwart's life from her earliest childhood and on. Rebecca is the third child of poor, immigrant Jewish parents who arrived in the States in the 30 and Rebecca was actually born in New York Harbor, making her a US citizen as the only one in the family.The book starts with Rebecca thinking back [...]

  • When I reached for my first book by Joyce Carol Oates, The Gravedigger's Daughter, I must admit I was expecting a somewhat sugar-coated and sweetened novel about a poor little girl, daughter of refugees from pre-war Germany, who grows up being mocked and bullied by her peers. I was somewhat expecting a novel about pity and unfair treatment. Probably it was the book cover that added a lot in forming this wrong expectation of mine. And while in a sense, I did find pity and drama in this book, they [...]

  • This was my necessary breezy read after the last one. It's the second thing I've read by this author, who seems to be really well-appreciated by the world, but I am still ambivalent about her work. It is easy to get into but also easy to fall right back out of- I guess that's what I will say. She is very prolific, though- it could be that I'm just reading the wrong things. This one is about a woman who has a really hard childhood and young adulthood and gets a lot of abuse, and then she goes on [...]

  • If there were six or seven stars to give them to this book, I would think that not enough! It has more than earned a place on my Favorites shelf. Now my favorite Oates novel out of the 20 or so (I lost count) of her books I’ve read.And what is it about? A “Graveddigger’s Daughter”? Yes. But also memory, perspective, and history intersecting, specifically during and especially in the decades following World War II in a culture somehow drowning deep in and yet distant from the war's realit [...]

  • Joyce Carol Oates is probably our most prolific writer. I've read so many of her novels, and she always gets me in her spell. She often writes of troubled young women who become victims to brutish men because of making bad choices and having low self-esteem. She has killer lines, which she often uses as repetitive phrases or tropes effectively throughout the book. She can do so much in one line, for example:"Mrs. Chester GallagherEach time she signed her new name it seemed to her that her handwr [...]

  • À force de lire Joyce Carol Oates, je vais finir par être à court de mots pour en parler. Oates nous livre ici un destin de femme, (pourtant pile le genre de sujet qui normalement me passe au-dessus) et fait encore mieux qu’avec Les Chutes. Oui, c’est possible. Le récit est beaucoup moins linéaire et les digressions chères à Oates sont légion. Les non-dits, les allusions, les souvenirs rassemblés comme les pièces d’un puzzle sont autant de moyens de nous immerger dans la vie chao [...]

  • I'm still up in the air about whether I liked this book or not. I picked it up because I had heard of the author, but have never read anything by her before. It is the story of Rebecca, the daughter of German immigrants to America. The father was a Math teacher, but takes the only job that he can in America, digging graves. The family tries to assimilate to America, while at the same time maintaining their prejudices and believes about Americans.The story is very violent as Rebecca deals with an [...]

  • This story depicts the tale of the Shwarts who, in the mid 1930s, fled Nazi Germany and have been reduced to life in a tiny cottage while their father, a former school teacher, can only find work as a cemetary caretaker. Perceived and actual intolerance by members of the community only exacerbate the family's frail mental health and, ultimately, tragedy strikes when our protagonist, Rebecca, is only 13 years old. The reader witnesses Rebecca's trials of youth, her struggles to escape an abusive [...]

  • Just finished. I'm guilty of needing books with "purpose". Not necessarily happy endings, but at least fulfilling on some level. This left me feeling empty and adrift. Not satisfied in any way. "We Were the Mulvaneys" was the first book I ever read by Oates. I thought it was magnificent. So raw and frighteningly truthful. It caused me to seek out her other works. But thisis left me wanting, and not in a good way. It actually gave me a headache. I don't know, maybe it was just too much of a cultu [...]

  • Oates' style is the most beautiful I've yet encountered, non-sophisticated, but appealing at the same time. It's not plain, but not overabundant in complicated words either. The descriptions aren't boring, the story goes smoothly and the characters are 3D. Intrigued to read other Oates' books.

  • This novel is narrated by the main character, Rebecca, in the third person, primarily using free indirect discourse. Oates’ style is to make liberal use of sentence fragments, and these seem consistent with the FID approach. The initial section of the first of three parts of the book reveals Rebecca as a young woman of about 23, working in a sweatshop factory to support herself and her three-year-old son. Her husband, Niles Trignor, is often away from home at unknown locations for days and wee [...]

  • This was a very hard book to read. It’s not that it is poorly written; it’s that the protagonist’s situation struck a raw note and was so painful for me to read about. Rebecca Schwart’s life is all about fear. From the time she is a small child, fear rules her life. Daughter of immigrants who fled the Nazis, she lives in horrible poverty, her father being reduced from a high school math teacher in Germany to a cemetery caretaker in America. Understandably bitter by their reduced circumst [...]

  • I've read her short stories but this is my first novel. She can surely write. I love her style and while the story is quite graphic in its violence and abuse, it was not gratuitous, but necessary, handled well. It was a story of survival, escape. One family escapes the holocaust only to confront isolation and prejudice in America, eventually leading a father to insanity and self-destruction. The journey of the surviving daughter reveals another from of persecution--the persecution of women/ a wo [...]

  • I have finished reading TGD. As I have said, it was a great story, stylishly written and the ending was a good one, except for some questions the book has left me with. In the final pages we read letters from a cousin of the main character. The cousin was a holocaust survivor and in her letter makes some vague references to the holocaust. One letter reads as follows: " the holocaust was an accident in history as all events in history are accidents The pious fantasizers wish to claim that the Naz [...]

  • The first half of this novel was so angry, practically dripping with Jacob Schwart's spittle-rage and Tignor's controlling misogyny! The unpleasant feeling of reading about all this anger, together with the deft anxiety-inducing plot, made me read fast, fast, fast, barely skimming some sections. It is a tribute to the author's ability that I kept reading at all. A less well-written book I certainly would've put down. But Rebecca's unique survival story, one in which she crafts a new identity to [...]

  • I love Joyce Carol Oates. This book, though, like some others she has written, left me with a hole. There were several unresolved issues in the book. I can understand why some of the issues were unresolved, such as Rebecca's parents' stories and backgrounds in Germany. I can even understand why the brothers were never found. But there were these phrases that Oates kept returning to, such as the final one, "There should be some reason she survived," (p. 551). I feel like Oates was trying to bring [...]

  • Another epic story from Oates, but I really lost interest in it halfway though.It infuriates me how no one in Oates's novels ever says what they feel or actually mean (as least not the antagonists). When a character comes along that does express himself, he's often made to look ridiculous and embarrassing. I can't help but think that these stories would be half as long if people just spoke candidly. I know that's not exactly suspenseful, but it's excruciating to read about someone sidestepping h [...]

  • Raw and gritty and saucy and rich. And tremulous. And reflective. And melancholy. The prose of life, of American life. Of a woman, told by a woman. After this book I want to read everything Joyce Carol Oates has ever written.

  • When I pick up a novel by Joyce Carol Oates, I want to feel I’m in the hands of a writer who really knows what she’s doing. Oates has published so many books, I’ve lost count of just how many, though I’m pretty certain this is her thirty-sixth novel. But even though I want to trust this author to take me on an interesting and unforgettable literary journey, there’s always been something about Oates’ work that won’t let me get truly involved. Some of her books, like Soltice, just le [...]

  • Had to renew this one it took so long to slog through. I picked it up because a dear friend, whose literary taste I trust, LOVES Oates and Oates is so prolific that I figured, if I loved her too, I'd have lots of future reading material. But, ugh! I didn't love it!! Maybe it was this particular choice, Merzy??? Anyway, this is a tough story of Jewish refugees who land in New York state during WWII. They live a brutal life. The titular daughter, though, ends up doing pretty darn well (I was very [...]

  • Una historia que no te deja indiferente, va de la vida de la hija de unos refugiados que llegaron a E.U. huyendo de los nazis; pero en realidad reseña la lucha de una mujer por enfrentar la vida, narra como encara lo que la vida le pone, abandonando el papel de víctima y decidiendo ser lo que ella quiere, por lo mismo, es dolorosa pero muy real.Al final de cuentas, no importa lo que pase en nuestra vida importa las decisiones que tomamos, somos el fiel resultado de cada una de ellas.A story th [...]

  • I was hooked at the begininng, but as I read there were a couple parts that I wasn't crazy about. Especially during the parts with her parents and brothers, it was kind of hard to read. Though I am glad that I finished the book, I did not like the ending at all!

  • A wonderful multi-layered novel of penetrating psychological insight and human understanding from a master.

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