The Sacrifice, Joyce Carol Oates' new novel, is based largely on the 1987 Tawana Brawley alleged rape case and the author's 1969 novel, Them, based on the 1967 race riots. The novel takes place in the fictional Red Rock neighborhood of inner-city Pascayne, New Jersey, in October of 1987. It centers around a black family: Sybilla Frye, 15, allegedly gang raped and beaten by white police officers; her mother, Ednetta Frye; and her stepfather, Anis Schutt. At the center of the story are the manipulative Mudrick twins, Rev. Marus Mudrick and his attorney brother, Byron; and Leopaldo Quarrquan, the Black Prince. I would recommend this novel not because the narrative is easy, but because it's difficult. The harsh points of view and the disjointed, unsettling writing style serve as societal mirrors worthy of present-day contemplation. The Sacrifice adds to the timely and important discussion on race, community, and choices. Joyce Carol Oates never fails to push her readers beyond their comfort zones.
May 5, 2015