Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize

The 2022 Kafka Prize Winner for Fiction Published in 2021

We are thrilled to announce that this year's recipient of the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize for Fiction is Rebecca Sacks, for her novel City of a Thousand Gates (Harper Collins, 2021)!

Sacks will be visiting the University of Rochester in Spring 2023 to read from her prize-winning novel. Check back for the event date, which will be announced no later than November 15, 2022.


“The novel showcases the humanity, tragedy, and complexity of life in the West Bank. . . . The characters’ interwoven lives will stay with you long after the book's denouement.”  —Entertainment Weekly

“Sacks is an extraordinarily gifted writer whose intelligence, compassion and skill on both the sentence and tension level rise to meet her ambition. She keeps us constantly on edge. . . . City of a Thousand Gates makes a convincing case for a literature of multiplicity, polyphonic and clamorous, abuzz with challenges and contradictions, with no clear answers but a promise to stay alert to the world, in all its peril and vitality.”  —Washington Post

Read more about Sacks' novel here.

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 2022 Kafka Prize selection committee

  • Eileen Daly-Boas, University of Rochester Library
  • Beth Jörgensen, Modern Languages and Cultures (Chair of Kafka Selection Committee)
  • Rachel O'Donnell, Writing, Speaking, and Argument Program
  • Chad Post, Open Letter Books