Katharine Haake Wins the 2022 Wolfson Prose Competition

Posted by Wolfson Press Staff on 5th Mar 2023

Katharine Haake's memoir-in-essays, The Touch of Another Hand, was selected by Kelcey Ervick as the winner of the 2022 Wolfson Prose Prize. It will be published in the American Storytellers Series. 

Her other books include an eco-dystopian science fiction fable The Time of Quarantine (SPD Bestseller); a hybrid California prose lyric, That Water, Those Rocks; three collections of short stories—The Origin of Stars and Other Stories, The Height and Depth of Everything (LA Times Bestseller) and No Reason on Earth (NY Times Notable Book); and a recent chapbook of fabulist parables, Assumptions We Might Make About the Postworld. Haake's writing has long appeared in such magazines as One Story, The Iowa Review, Crazyhorse, Witness, New Letters, Shenandoah, and The Santa Monica Review, and has been recognized as distinguished by Best American Short Stories and Best American Essays, among others. 

Her collaboration with LA artist Lisa Bloomfield is included in Bloomfield’s portfolio in the permanent collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. A long-time contributor to the theory and scholarship of creative writing, she is also the author of What Our Speech Disrupts: Feminism and Creative Writing Studies, considered a foundation text in the field. In 2019, she was a fellow at the Scientific Delirium Madness Month, co-sponsored by the Djerassi Artist’s Residence Program and Leonardo. Prior residencies include those at Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Hedgebrook Cottages for Women, Ucross, and Montalvo. In 2005, Haake was awarded a Master Artist’s Fellowship from the Cultural Affairs Department of the City of Los Angeles. She teaches at California State University, Northridge.

The Touch of Another Hand is a memoir-in-essays that reflects on themes of grief, estrangement, and grace, along with a certain perplexity at what counts as a life that is, in all ways, ordinary, but being her own, does not feel that way. At its crux lies the premature and unrelated deaths of two of the closest people in her life—a woman who was for many years her dearest friend and a man who is referred to in the essays as “the man whom I might call the true love of my life if we could still use words like that without self-consciousness or irony.” While these people never met and lived in different, distant states, they remained touchstones for Haake through the long years of a marriage that, despite certain logics and affections, she has only recently come to own as abusive. Both died in the full, round years of middle age, very near their half century mark, the one just before and the other just after Haake's children grew up and she left her troubled marriage. Free at last, she found herself strangely alone in a world she no longer fully recognized, and the essays of this memoir provide an occasion to look back and piece together a puzzle that is still, in some ways, mystifying, not at all unlike the puzzle presented by every other completely ordinary life. Additional subjects the essays visit include such disparate topics as photography, parenting, memory, animals, aliens (extraterrestrials), war, nature, and writing, but underlying all of them, a certain sense of marvel at the strangeness and beauty of human life at what sometimes feels like the end of the knowable world.