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Joyce Carol Oates Wins the Prestigious French Cino Del Duca World Prize

© Dustin Cohen

“If the phrase ‘woman of letters’ existed, Joyce Carol Oates would be, foremost in this country, entitled to it.”—John Updike, The New Yorker

The 2020 Cino Del Duca World Prize honored the American writer Joyce Carol Oates for her whole body of work. This prestigious prize is traditionally awarded by the Institut de France during a ceremony organized under the dome of the Académie française, official arbiter for the French language. Joyce Carol Oates succeeds Kamel Daoud who was the 2019 laureate.

The Cino Del Duca World Prize, which is worth 200,000 euros, is often seen as a forerunner to the Nobel: Andrei Sakharov, Mario Vargas Llosa and the French novelist Patrick Modiano all won it before obtaining the Nobel Prize.

The disctinction is awarded each year by the Simone and Cino Del Duca Foundation to an author whose work constitutes, in scientific or literary form, a message of modern humanism. 

The Institut de France will give Joyce Carol Oates the Prize on a ceremony held on October 27, 2020 that you can watch online.


Born in 1938, Joyce Carol Oates began her writing career in 1963 with the publication of the short story collection By the North Gate. Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, professor of literature at Princeton, holder of multiple literary awards (1970 National Book Award and the 2005 Foreign Femina Prize for The Falls), Joyce Carol Oates has long held a place at the forefront of contemporary writers. Published in France by Philippe Rey, she has been at the origin of important literary works comprising more than 70 novels such as Blonde (HarperCollins, 2000), Black Girl, White Girl (Ecco Press, 2006) and The Gravedigger's Daughter (Ecco Press, 2007).

She is particularly focused on issues of racism and social inequalities in American culture and the defense of civil rights is at the heart of her work.

One of her latest novel on the challenging of the right to abortion in the United States, A Book of American Martyrs, translated into French by Claude Seban, was a finalist for the Prix Médicis last year.

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