“Free Choice Is a Lie”: I review Joyce Carol Oates’s new novel

for First Things:

A Book of American Martyrs, Joyce Carol Oates’s novel about the shooting of an abortionist by a Christian “Soldier of God,” is perfectly unempathetic. Lately we’ve heard a lot about how important it is to feel empathy for those on the other side of various moral, political, and religious divides. Even if we abhor the beliefs of others, we are exhorted to see them as complex human beings like ourselves. Oates will have none of it. She offers insights into the nature of abortion—but creates a world almost wholly devoid of three-dimensional human beings.


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