Because it is Bitter, and Because it is My Heart

Front Cover
Plume, 1991 - Fiction - 405 pages
16 Reviews
Joyce Carol Oates adds to her extraordinary body of work with this stunning novel of violence and love. At the heart of the story are two people, Iris Courtney, who is white, and handsome Jinx Fairchild, the black basketball player who, in protecting Iris, kills a white man.

Iris is the only witness to the crime.

The two of them are growing up in the early 1950s in a New York industrial town where racial boundaries keep people apart--or bring them together in explosive scenes of fear or desire. The secret link between Iris and Jinx is not only their attraction to each other, but a murder and a bond of passion and guilt is formed between them. How this one irrevocable, tragic act shapes their lives and alters their destinies becomes Joyce Carol Oates' finest, emotion-packed novel--a work the critics are calling a masterpiece, the best work of America's best writer of contemporary realism.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
1 star

Nevertheless, the prose is powerful. - Goodreads
I never found a central plot-line to latch onto. - Goodreads
... the drama and the plot. - Goodreads

Review: Because it is Bitter, and Because it is My Heart

User Review  - Lucinda K - Goodreads

This ambitious novel begins with a murder committed in self-defense, one that haunts its only witness, Iris Courtney through the coming years. It also links her in an inexplicable way to the ... Read full review

Review: Because it is Bitter, and Because it is My Heart

User Review  - Rachel - Goodreads

3 1/2 Stars This was an intense read. The first 1/3 of it, for me, was much less enjoyable than the last 2/3. It was beautifully written, Oates is undeniably talented. But it was just so heavy and ... Read full review


The Body

1 other sections not shown

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

Midamerica, Volumes 17-19

Snippet view - 1990

About the author (1991)

In addition to many prize-winning and bestselling novels, including We Were the Mulvaneys, Black Water, and Because It Is Bitter and Because It Is My Heart (available in Plume editions), Joyce Carol Oates is the author of a number of works of gothic fiction including Haunted: Tales of the Grotesque (Plume), a 1995 World Fantasy Award nominee; and Zombie (Plume), winner of the 1996 Bram Stoker Award for Best Horror Novel, awarded by the Horror Writers' Association. In 1994, Oates received the Bram Stoker Lifetime Achievement Award in Horror Fiction. She is the editor of American Gothic Tales and her latest novel is Broke Heart Blues (Dutton). She lives in Princeton, New Jersey.

Bibliographic information