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Rochester Knockings: A Novel of the Fox Sisters

Hubert Haddad; Jennifer Grotz (translator)

Open Letter Books, October 2015

The Fox Sisters grew up outside of Rochester, NY, in a house with a reputation for being haunted, due to a series of strange “knockings” that plagued its inhabitants. Fed up with the sounds, the youngest of the sisters (aged twelve) challenged their ghost and ended up communicating with a spirit who had been murdered in the house and buried in the cellar.

The Fox Sisters became instantly famous for talking to the dead, launching the Spiritualist Movement. After taking Rochester by storm, they moved to New York where they were the most famous mediums of the time, performing séances for hundreds of people—until it all fell apart. Yet, even today, the Fox Sisters are still considered to be the founders of one of the most popular religious movements in recent centuries.

Rich in historical detail, Rochester Knockings novelizes the rise and fall of these most infamous of mediums, and sheds a unique light on the impressionability and fragility of nineteenth-century America. 

Teaser: Read an excerpt

About the Author

Hubert Haddad was born in Tunisia and is the author of dozens of works, including the novels Palestine (winner of the Prix des Cinq Continents de la Francophonie), Tango chinois, and La Condition magique (winner of the Grand Prix du Roman de la Société des Gens de Lettres).


Praise for Haddad's Rochester Knockings

“Hats off to one of the most inventive writers of French literature... Hubert Haddad concocts a colorful novel, funny and inventive, as clever as the Fox sisters themselves.”  — Jean-François Delapré, Saint Christophe Bookstore


First annual Celebration of Open Letter Books and Rochester

October 23, 2015 | 8 pm

Featuring a live performance by the amazing Fox Sisters band, a release party for Open Letter's new book Rochester Knockings, a locally-inspired silent auction, a reading by Jennifer Grotz (local poet and translator), drinks, free food, palm reading, dancing & more.

Come party at this celebration for Open Letter Books and Rochester. All tickets are tax deductible, and all proceeds directly benefit the mission of Open Letter Books (a local 501(c)(3) nonprofit arts organization at the University of Rochester), help afford students the opportunity to learn literary translation here in Rochester, and further promote the literary arts in our community. 


Click here to learn more about the book.