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Claudia Marseille
But You Look so Normal: Lost and Found in a Hearing World

By age four, I had hardly uttered a word. Finally, my parents had my hearing tested and learned I had a severe hearing loss. They chose to mainstream me, hoping this would offer me the most “normal” childhood possible. With the help of a primitive hearing aid, I worked hard to learn to hear, lipread, and speak, but I tried to hide my disability in order to fit in. As a result, I was often misunderstood, lonely, and isolated—fitting into neither the hearing world nor the Deaf culture.

This memoir explores my relationships with my German refugee parents—a disturbed, psychoanalyst father obsessed over various harebrained projects and moneymaking schemes and a Jewish mother who had survived the Holocaust in Munich. I share how I emerged from loneliness and social isolation, explored my Jewish identity, struggled to find a career compatible with hearing loss, and eventually opened myself to a life of creativity and love.

But You Look So Normal is the inspiring story of a life affected but not defined by an invisible disability. It is a journey through family, loss, shame, identity, love, and healing as I finally, joyfully, find my place in the world. My memoir is being published by She Writes Press, and will come out in May 2024. Click here to pre-order from Amazon.

After earning master’s degrees in archaeology and in public policy, and finally an MFA, I developed a career in photography and painting, a profession compatible with a hearing loss. I ran a fine art portrait photography studio for fifteen years before becoming a full-time painter. My paintings are represented by the Seager Gray gallery in Mill Valley, CA.

I played classical piano much of my life; in my free time I love to read, watch movies, travel, spend time with friends, and attend concerts and art exhibits. I live with my husband in Oakland and we have one grown daughter

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