2019 Iowa Prize for Literary Nonfiction
“A powerful, heartbreaking, and fearless essay on abuse, family, and the fragmentation of the self, Faculty Brat takes narrative prose to a new and necessary level.”—Susan Steinberg, judge, Iowa Prize for Literary Nonfiction, author, Machine
“The darkness of this unflinching memoir is balanced by the author’s generosity of heart. Although sexual abuse is devastating, Bucca’s emotional authenticity and stunning writing masterfully draw the reader inside his fractured world. The book’s combination of strength and fragility makes this an important and compelling chronicle of literary witness.”—Sue William Silverman, author, Because I Remember Terror, Father, I Remember You
“Faculty Brat is not your ordinary memoir about abuse nor is Dominic Bucca an ordinary writer. Both book and author soar on the wings of talent, truth, and courage. Dominic’s ability to render the most horrific of experiences into a riveting work of art that burns with the need for justice met is breathtaking. Incessantly and beautifully written, Faculty Brat is a dazzling debut from a memoirist whose voice is unforgettable.”—Connie May Fowler, author, Before Women Had Wings
At the most prestigious preparatory schools in the United States, the children of educators are referred to as “faculty brats.” Though generally lacking the privilege of the institution’s wealthy students, faculty brats enjoy access to the school’s extensive grounds and facilities and are part of everyday campus life. Though these children are frequently despised, they must be tolerated.
Dominic Bucca’s art teacher mother married his music teacher stepfather twice, and the young boy wondered if the union might be twice as strong as a result. Instead, he quickly discovered that the marriage was twice as flawed. When Dominic was nine years old, his stepfather began sexually abusing him in the faculty housing attached to the boys’ dorm his parents oversaw. Years later, he found escape by reaching out to his biological dad, and learned to split his life between two realities.
For nearly twenty-five years, Bucca hid the secret of his stepfather’s abuse from his mother and sisters. When he decided to tell, hoping to prevent his stepfather from continuing to teach young boys, Bucca discovered the limits of both his family and the legal system.