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Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize

The Kafka Prize Winner for Fiction Published in 2018

The recipient of the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize for Fiction published in 2018 is Tiffany Quay Tyson, for her novel The Past Is Never.

Meet the author!

On Wednesday, November 6, 2019 Tyson will visit Rochester for a reading and award ceremony, followed by an hors d’oeuvres reception and book signing at the University of Rochester. The event begins at 6:00pm and will be held in the Welles-Brown Room of the Rush Rhees Library. Books will be available for purchase, provided by the Barnes and Noble Campus Bookstore. Free parking is available in Library Lot. For event details and updates, please check our events page and our Facebook page.

Image of Tiffany Tyson and the cover of the book The Past is Never

From the Kafka Prize committee

Tiffany Quay Tyson’s The Past is Never is a haunting meditation on the limits and possibilities of repair. When a young girl goes missing, her siblings set out to find her, unearthing family secrets along the way. It is a coming-of-age story that becomes an inquiry into the ways in which our stories precede us, bound up as they are in long legacies of race, gender, class, and community. 

About the Kafka Prize

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 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.

The selection committee

This year's Committee members were:

  • Eileen Daly-Boas, University of Rochester Library
  • David Hansen, English
  • Beth Jörgensen, Modern Languages and Cultures (Chair of Kafka Selection Committee)
  • Terry Platt, Biology
  • Anna Rosensweig, Modern Languages and Cultures