New Memoir from Michael Hickins ’86 Coming Soon from Amsterdam Publishers

Jessie Shohfi
May 12, 2023

The Silk Factory, a new memoir from alumnus Michael Hickins ’86 (CC ’83), is coming next month from Amsterdam Publishers. 

In The Silk Factory, Hickins’ second memoir, he tackles the legacy of trauma he inherited from his father, who survived the Holocaust only to lock those experiences inside the vault of his memory. By following the threads of history, Hickins excavates his father’s life story from the dust of the past, and comes to a new understanding of his own heritage. 

Author Dawn Raffel praised the book, saying, “By turns razor-sharp and heartbreakingly tender, Michael Hickins's memoir is an unforgettable exploration of personal and intergenerational history–the traumas we inherit, the stories we tell ourselves and our children, and the stories that are hidden, even as they shape our lives. Above all, The Silk Factory is about the courage to seek the truth.”

On his blog, Hickins wrote about the family secrets that prompted him to begin this memoir. He said, “My father, a German Jew—probably more German than Jewish in his everyday life, but 100% Jewish to the Nazis—fled Germany with his wife Hilde and their young son Walter. First to Holland, then Belgium. Arrested in Belgium, they were deported to France, to the Gurs resettlement camp, from where tens of thousands of Jews were sent to Auschwitz and other camps where they were murdered… But I never heard about this. My father never talked about it to me, and neither did my mother, who lived into her 90s. Why the hell not? I think I know the answer: that no one could possibly understand what the place meant to those who lived through it, and that it’s better to be silent than to be misunderstood. This silence is something I discuss in my forthcoming memoir.”

The Silk Factory will be released on June 1, and is available for preorder here

Michael Hickins is the author of the short story collection The Actual Adventures of Michael Missing (Alfred A. Knopf), the novels Blomqvist and The What Do You Know Contest, and the memoir I Lived in France and So Can You (Dzanc Books). Hickins’ journalism has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, eWeek, and Women's Wear Daily.