Rochester Knockings

By Hubert Haddad, Translated by Jennifer Grotz

Available from Open Letter

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.

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), Le Peintre d’éventailCorps désirable, and La Condition magique (winner of the Grand Prix du Roman de la Société des Gens de Lettres).