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San Miguel Big Read to Feature Joyce Carol Oates

Joyce Carol Oates by Marion Ettlinger Hires

By Diana Berman

As a part of the San Miguel Writers’ Conference & Literary Festival 2016, the sixth annual Big Read is delighted to announce that our featured author this year is Joyce Carol Oates with her new collection of short stories, Lovely, Dark, Deep. Oates is the nationally acclaimed author of over 100 books of novels, essays, and poetry. As a New York Times bestseller, she has won, among other awards, the O’Henry Award, The National Book Award for Fiction, The Stone Award for Lifetime Achievement, and the PEN Award. Oates is one of the US’s leading women of letters. She has written some of the most enduring fiction of our time, including the national bestsellers: Them, We Are the Mulvaneys, and Blond.

Big Read Book Group
Thu, Nov 12, 5pm
Aldea Hotel
Ancha de San Antonio 15

Lovely, Dark, Deep is a collection of 13 short stories. “Insightful, disturbing, and mesmerizing in their lyrical precision, the stories in the book display Joyce Carol Oates’ astonishing ability to make visceral the fear, hurt, and uncertainty that lurks at the edges of our lives,” according to NPR. “Lovely, Dark, Deep is a “piercing and evocative collection…(it is) Joyce Carol Oates at her most imaginative and unsettling.”

The Big Read is a community-wide program inviting everyone to be part of a one-time book group (or your own group) during the week of February 2 to 6 to read and discuss Lovely, Dark, Deep, and to attend special events to better acquaint us with the author and her current interests before she arrives in town.

Big Read book groups

The Big Read book groups bring together people from a variety of backgrounds who love literature to discuss their own perspective on the book, often using the guidance of discussion questions prepared by the Big Read, designed for both readers and writers. Participants will have the opportunity to broaden their understanding of both the literary style of the author and the themes she is exploring.

Our focus for the one-time book groups and the discussion questions will be five of the most compelling stories in Lovely, Dark, Deep. They are “Sex with a Camel,” “The Mastiff,” “The Hunter,” “The Disappearing,” and “The Jesters.”

Big Read special programs

The Big Read will present two programs about Joyce Carol Oates and the art of short stories as a specific modality of writing. The first program, on Monday, January 25, at 5pm at the Teatro Santa Ana in La Biblioteca, is the showing of the 1985 movie, Smooth Talking, based on Oates’ most famous short story, “Where Are You Going? Where Have You Been?” This movie won the Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury prize for a US dramatic movie.

The second program, on Monday, February 1, at 5pm, also in the Teatro Santa Ana, is divided in two parts. First we’ll show a video collage of Joyce Carol Oates exploring how she has evolved personally and as an artist in the last 50 years along with the themes that she currently finds compelling. The second part of the program will be a panel discussion by two published short story writers discussing the art of short story writing, how the short story differs from a novel, how the form has evolved over the years, and what writers should be aware of as they seek to publish short stories.

Both of the above events will be 75 pesos with tickets available at the Santa Ana box office. Tickets should be purchased ahead of time, as Big Read events usually sell out.

Big Read launch events

The two best opportunities to sign up for a Big Read book group and also to purchase a copy of Lovely, Dark, Deep will be the regular Literary Sala events on November 12 and January 14, both at the Aldea Hotel. The book will also be for sale in La tienda of La Biblioteca.

If you cannot attend the book group sign ups on Sala nights and would like to join or host a discussion group, please email

Joyce Carol Oates will present her Writers’ Conference keynote address on Saturday, February 13, at 6pm at the Hotel Real de Minas. Tickets for individual conference events like this keynote, or for full conference packages, may be purchased online at


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