Heather Neff

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Heather Neff (born January 28, 1957) is an award-winning university professor. Born in Akron, Ohio, at the age of 13 her family moved to Detroit, where she graduated from Lewis Cass Technical High School in 1975 with a degree in music. She earned a B.A. with "high distinction" from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. After graduating in 1978 she studied French at the University of Paris VII,Censier and then lived in Switzerland, where she studied at the University of Basel and the University of Zurich. She received a licentiate in English Literature and Linguistics, Comparative Literature and French Linguistics in 1987, and, in 1990, a Doctorate in English Literature at the University of Zurich. Currently, she is a professor at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Michigan, where she specializes in the literature of the African Diaspora. Neff currently serves as the Director of the McNair Scholars Program, a federal TRiO program.



  • Blackgammon (2000) by One World/Random House "Blackgammon" follows twenty-five years in the lives of two women who attempt to make their lives in England and Paris.
  • Wisdom (2002), by One World/Random House, about a woman with ovarian cancer who travels to St. Croix to learn about her family background. This book was named an Honor Book by the American Library Association’s Black Caucus.
  • Accident of Birth (2004) by Harlem Moon/Doubleday. The novel delves into the love shared between an African American woman and a Liberian student. The book also explores various aspects of political issues that are still prevalent today.
  • Haarlem (2005) by Harlem Moon/Doubleday. A book set in the Netherlands, Haarlem tells the story of an African American man in search of his mother. The title character fights his addiction to alcohol while learning about life and its struggles.
    • Review, Black Issues Book Reviews
  • Leila: The Weighted Silence of Memory. (August, 2009)/Booksurge. A modern day slave narrative set in Morocco, "Leila" depicts the desperate challenges faced by a 12-year-old girl sold into slavery by her father.

"Leila II: The Moods of the Sea." (September, 2014)/Createspace. This sequel to "Leila: The Weighted Silence of Memory," describes Leila's attempts to overcome the physical, emotional and sexual abuse of her past, while remaining a fugitive from her former captors.


  • Redemption Songs: The voice of protest in the poetry of Afro-Americans. (Franke Verlag, 1990),

and a number of articles:

  • "Decoding Mixed Signals: Surviving the Demise of Affirmative Action"
  • "Creating Sanctuary: The Ideal of Europe on the Writing of African Americans"
  • "Heritage, Heresy and Relevance: Recontextualizing the Canon"
  • "Strange Face in the Mirror: The Ethics of Cultural Diversity in Children's Film"


  • Distinguished Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching, (2000) the highest instructional honor offered by Eastern Michigan University
  • Michigan Distinguished Professor (2007)
  • Eastern Michigan University Alumni Association Teaching Excellence Award (2008)


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