Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize

The Kafka Prize Winner for Fiction Published in 2012

The 2012 Recipient of the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize for Fiction by an American Woman is Anna Keesey for her novel, Little Century.

Meet the author!

On Tuesday, October 15, 2013 Keesey will visit Rochester for a reading and award ceremony, followed by an hors d’oeuvres reception and book signing at the Wells-Brown Room of the Rush Rhees Library at the University of Rochester. The event begins at 5:00pm. Books will be available for purchase, provided by the Barnes and Noble Campus Bookstore.

Anna Keesey


Kafka Prize Committee chair McGowan remarks: “Anna Keesey’s debut novel impresses with its confident, restrained and elegant writing.  Recently orphaned Esther Chambers travels from Chicago to the frontier town of Century in 1900 to start a new life on her wealthy cousin’s ranch, takes up homesteading and gradually becomes enmeshed in the escalating conflict between cattlemen and sheepherders. The novel’s distinct sense of place--Oregon’s high desert—plus its well-depicted characters, sensitive and sensible heroine, and intriguing story about a pivotal year in the lives of both a small town and a young woman make it an engrossing, unpredictable read.”

 About the Award

Since 1976, the Susan B. Anthony Institute for Gender and Women's Studies and the Department of English at the University of Rochester have awarded the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize for fiction by an American woman. The idea for the prize came out of the personal grief of the friends and family of a fine young editor who was killed in an automobile accident just as her career was beginning to achieve its promise of excellence. She was 30 years old, and those who knew her believed she would do much to further the causes of literature and women. Her family, her friends, and her professional associates in the publishing industry created the endowment from which the prize is bestowed, in memory of Janet Heidinger Kafka and the literary standards and personal ideals for which she stood.

Each year a substantial cash prize is awarded annually to a woman who is a USA citizen, and who has written the best book-length work of prose fiction, whether novel, short stories, or experimental writing. We are particularly interested in calling attention to the work of a promising but less established writer.

About the Committee

This year's Committee members were:

  • Kathy McGowan, Education and Women's Studies Librarian, Rush Rhees Library
  • Terry Platt, Professor of Biochemistry and Biology, University of Rochester
  • Kathryn Mannheimer, Associate Professor of English, University of Rochester

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