Alumna Jessica Hindman '09 (CC '03) Finalist for the 2019 NBCC Awards

BY Nina Mahesh, January 29, 2020

­­­­­­­Alumna Jessica Hindman '09 (CC '03) is a finalist for the 2019 National Book Critics Circle Awards for her autobiography Sounds Like Titanic: A Memoir.

The Los Angeles Review of Books called the memoir, “original, funny, and deeply moving,” while The New Yorker called it a “sardonic, moving memoir.” Vox writes the book, “is the definition of an overdeliver.” And goes on to say, “on top of her ability to mine unexpected resonances from a story, she writes marvelously lucid prose.” 

In Sounds Like Titanic: A Memoir, which came out last year, an aspiring violinist, Jessica Hindman, gets a job with a professional ensemble in New York City, the culmination of her lifelong dream. But the ensemble proves to be a sham. When the group “performs,” the microphones are never on. Instead, the music blares from a CD. The mastermind behind this scheme is a peculiar and mysterious figure known as The Composer, who is gaslighting his audiences with music that sounds suspiciously like the Titanic movie soundtrack. On tour with his chaotic ensemble, Hindman spirals into crises of identity and disillusionment as she “plays” for audiences genuinely moved by the performance, unable to differentiate real from fake.

Hindman holds a BA in Middle Eastern studies, an MFA in creative nonfiction writing from Columbia University, and a PhD in English from the University of North Texas. She is an Associate Professor of English at Northern Kentucky University where she recently won the Outstanding Junior Faculty Award and the Excellence in Research, Scholarship, & Creative Activity Award. She lives in Newport, Kentucky with her husband, the astronomer Nathan De Lee. Her recent writing has appeared in McSweeney's Internet Tendency, The New York Times Magazine, Brevity, and Hippocampus.

The National Book Critics Circle aims to promote a national conversation about reading, criticism, and literature. They give awards yearly for six categories: Autobiography, Biography, Criticism, Fiction, Nonfiction and Poetry. Columbia College alumna Morgan Parker ’10 is also a finalist for her poetry book, Magical Negro.

This year’s NBCC awards will be presented March 12, 2020 at the New School in New York City. They are preceded by a finalists’ reading on March 11. Both events are free and open to the public, and are available here.