University of Rochester

EVENT: Inherited Trauma, Memory, Survival Explored in Kafka Prize Reading

March 2, 2004

Joyce Hackett, recipient of the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize at the University of Rochester for her debut novel Disturbance of the Inner Ear, will present a reading and book signing at 4 p.m. Sunday, March 28, in the Welles-Brown Room in Rush Rhees Library on the River Campus. The event is free and open to the public.

Critically acclaimed by numerous publications, Disturbance of the Inner Ear explores inherited trauma and, as Hackett has described, “ . . . the way parents, in their attempts to protect their children from what they experienced, traumatize their children with silence. And how children, in an attempt to understand their parents’ lives, imaginatively projected themselves into their parents’ lives and sometimes recreated those lives for themselves—even the painful parts.”

The novel was named to the best book lists of Publisher’s Weekly, Library Journal, Chicago Tribune, and the National Book Critics Circle, and New York Newsday noted, “Joyce Hackett employs a lush and perfectly pitched lyricism to tell her tale . . . Her talent for the apt metaphor is virtuosic.”

The novel tells the story of Isabel Masurovsky, a former prodigy cellist and the daughter of a world-renowned pianist who survived the concentration camp at Theresienstadt. Ten years after the tragic death of her parents and following the death of her mentor and lover, Isabel finds herself alone in Italy and takes a job as a viola teacher. Through her relationship with Giulio, a plastic surgeon and gigolo, she learns to accept and make peace with her past.

Hackett interviewed more than 40 survivors of Theresienstadt and their families while writing her book. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications in the United States and abroad, including Harpers, London Magazine, The Paris Review, The Chicago Tribune, The Boston Review, Salon, The Independent, and the Berlin daily Der Tagespiegel. She also has taught at Marymount Manhattan College and New York University, was a lecturer at Freie Universitaet Berlin, and was a freelance editor for Simon & Schuster, Penguin, and other presses.

The Kafka Prize, which carries a $5,000 award, is presented by the Susan B. Anthony Institute for Gender and Women’s Studies and the Department of English at the University of Rochester. It was established in 1976 in memory of Janet Kafka, a young editor killed in an automobile accident that ended a career many believed would have furthered the causes of women and literature. Previous winners have included Toni Morrison for Song of Solomon and Gail Godwin for A Southern Family.

For more information, call (585) 275-8318.

Note to Editors: A picture of Joyce Hackett can be e-mailed to you by contacting Helene Snihur, or (585) 275-7800.