Prize-winning author Joyce Carol Oates recreates the notorious Tawana Brawley case — with an Al Sharpton-like character fanning the flames of fraud — in her explosive new novel “The Sacrifice” (Ecco Press), coming out later this month.
Oates moves the story from Newburgh to the fictional town of Pascayne, NJ, where her “heroine,” 15-year-old Sybilla Frye, is found in the cellar of an old fish factory beaten up, hog-tied and covered in dog feces with racial epithets written upside-down on her body.
Many parallels exist between the novel and the Brawley case, including the accusations leveled against white cops for the crimes and the later appearance of a charismatic minister who rushes to the girl’s side.
In the novel, the Sharpton character is called Rev. Marus Mudrick, a vain and greedy agitator who tells Sybilla that he will crusade for her cause.
As Mudrick stirs up the media and spirits Sybilla and her mother to a safe house in Montclair, NJ, black celebrities rally around her — and write large checks.