Joanne Strasser was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1978, and grew up in Columbus, Ohio, where she attended a private, all-girls school and pursued competitive figure skating. Joanne was an exchange student in Weimar, Berlin and Moscow, and speaks German and Russian fluently.
Upon graduating from Brandeis University, Joanne won a scholarship from the German Parliament enabling her to work as a parliamentary intern and attend classes at the Humboldt University. Later, she moved to New York City to pursue a masters degree from The New School for Social Research, and was then accepted to the Sociology doctoral program.
Joanne is the author of two novels: Occupied and The Year of My Fixation.
Set in Israel, Germany and the United States, and amidst separation and political conflict, Occupied is the story of a troubled mother-daughter relationship. Tamar, a fearless Academic and the only Israeli living in the Palestinian territories, chooses her career and “the cause” over being a mother to her daughter, Keren. She sends Keren to the United States at the age of nine to live with the father and family she has never met, and disappears from her life for the next several years without a word.
Although Keren is an exceptional child, whose musical gifts eventually lead her to study in Berlin and to mature into a talented violinist, she is plagued by her relationship with Tamar and its lack of stability and normalcy. Tamar draws her in only to push her away again, and Keren struggles with this rejection as it interferes with her ability to come to terms with the past and find peace in her life.
Occupied deals with a struggle common to all: how do we find closure and reconciliation without apologies from those who hurt us? How do we free ourselves from shadows of past, which occupy us and detract from our ability to live in the moment? The book examines this in the relationship between Keren and Tamar, but also within a larger political and historical context, drawing on the complex history between Germans and Jews and the current conflict in Israel and Palestine.
The Year of My Fixation
Set in an all-girls boarding school on the east coast, The Year of My Fixation weaves together the stories of Hannah and Coach L., the story of an unlikely and dangerous friendship.
Coach L. (Silke Lauterbach) is the mysterious and often brutal coach of Taylor Academy's number one ranked swim team. Having defected from East Germany during the notorious 1976 Montreal Olympic doping scandal, Coach L. has many secrets... secrets that could possibly ruin her. However, she's seems invincible, that is, until she meets sophomore swimmer Hannah Newman.
Looking for mentorship and love, Hannah latches on to Coach L.; and simultaneously, Coach L. is drawn to Hannah, seeing much of herself in her young "star swimmer." Initially, it seems like they have found in each other something that they were lacking, but what happens when a new and better swimmer joins the team? How will Hannah react when she realizes Coach L.'s love is only reserved for the top swimmer? Will she seek revenge?
The Year of My Fixation examines how we create heroes and the sense of loss we experience when we realize they are also flawed human beings.
© Copyright Joanne Strasser, 2014