Ponca City, Oklahoma
Marked by Fire
Marked by Fire, Joyce Carol Thomas's first novel, is about a girl who is struck mute after being raped.
“This is a powerful representative of a black rural Oklahoma community,” Hazel Rochman said. “The story—told in a series of brief concentrated vignettes—is mainly about the women, and it focuses on one special child among them, Abyssinia (Abby) Jackson: the ritual of her birth in the cotton fields with the women all participating in the pain and the joy; her growth as the gifted beautiful darling of the community; the horror of her rape at age 10; her recovery and subsequent maturing. As she grows up, Abby learns— through her experiences with near drowning and with fire; through her dreams; and through her struggles with her alter ego, the mad Trembling Sally—that violence can lead to rebirth and to revelation.”
“Thomas's poetic tone gives this work what scents give the roses already so pleasing in color,” Dorothy Randall-Tsuruta observed. “In fact, often as not the lyrical here carries the reader beyond concern for fast action. Then, too, Thomas's short-lived interest in playwrighting figures in her fine regard for and control of dialogue.”
Born Joyce Carol Haynes, the writer grew up in a migrant farming family in Oklahoma and California. Her father later became a bricklayer, her mother a hair stylist. Thomas attended San Francisco City College, the University of San Francisco, the College of San Mateo, San Jose State College, and Stanford University. She married