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Tattooed Girl, The

By Joyce Carol Oates
Book Details
  • Author: Joyce Carol Oates
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Published: 2004-06-01

A celebrated but reclusive author, generally regarded as a somewhat idiosyncratic bachelor, young but in failing health, Joshua Seigl reluctantly admits to himself that he can no longer live alone. Although it goes against his instincts to do so, he must hire an assistant to help him with his increasingly complicated professional and personal affairs. Considering at first only male applicants, he is dissatisfied with everyone he meets.

Then one day at the bookstore he encounters Alma. A young woman with synthetic-looking blond hair and pale, tattooed skin, she stirs something inside Seigl -- pity? desire? responsibility? Though he's uncertain why, he decides she is the one -- she will be his assistant. Unaware of her torturous past -- the abuses she's suffered, the wrongs she's committed, and the hatred that seethes within her -- he has no idea that he is bringing into his home an enemy: an anti-Semite who despises him virulently and unquestioningly. Seigl allows Alma more and more deeply into his life, mindless of the danger she presents. Yet their closeness forces Seigl and Alma to make discoveries that cut to the core of their identities.

With her unique, masterful balance of dark suspense and surprising tenderness, Joyce Carol Oates probes the tragedy of ethnic hatred and challenges accepted limits of desire.