Collects the personal essays and reflections that have transformed the national conversation around disability. Based on the pioneering New York Times series.
Product Code: 8372
ISBN: 9781631495854
Format: Hardback
Publisher: Liveright
Pages: 286
Published Date: 09/03/2019
Availability: Not currently available.
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Price: $27.95

Boldly claiming a space in which people with disabilities can be seen and heard as they are—not as others perceive them - About Us captures the voices of a community that has for too long been stereotyped and misrepresented. Speaking not only to those with disabilities, but also to their families, coworkers and support networks, the authors in About Us offer intimate stories of how they navigate a world not built for them.

Since its 2016 debut, the popular New York Times’ “Disability” column has transformed the national dialogue around disability. Now, echoing the refrain of the disability rights movement, “Nothing about us without us,” this landmark collection gathers the most powerful essays from the series that speak to the fullness of human experience—stories about first romance, childhood shame and isolation, segregation, professional ambition, child-bearing and parenting, aging and beyond.

Reflecting on the fraught conversations around disability—from the friend who says “I don’t think of you as disabled,” to the father who scolds his child with attention differences, “Stop it stop it stop it what is wrong with you?”—the stories here reveal the range of responses, and the variety of consequences, to being labeled as “disabled” by the broader public.

Here, a writer recounts her path through medical school as a wheelchair user—forging a unique bridge between patients with disabilities and their physicians. An acclaimed artist with spina bifida discusses her art practice as one that invites us to “stretch ourselves toward a world where all bodies are exquisite.” With these notes of triumph, these stories also offer honest portrayals of frustration over access to medical care, the burden of social stigma and the nearly constant need to self-advocate in the public realm.

In its final sections, About Us turns to the questions of love, family and joy to show how it is possible to revel in life as a person with disabilities. Subverting the pervasive belief that disability results in relentless suffering and isolation, a quadriplegic writer reveals how she rediscovered intimacy without touch, and a mother with a chronic illness shares what her condition has taught her young children.

With a foreword by Andrew Solomon and introductory comments by co-editors Peter Catapano and Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, About Us is a landmark publication of the disability movement for readers of all backgrounds, forms and abilities.

Featuring Essays from: John Altmann,Todd Balf, Jennifer Bartlett, Emily Rapp Black, Sheila Black, Sasha Blair-Goldensohn, Cheri A. Blauwet, Molly McCully Brown, Joseph P. Carter, Peter Catapano, Randi Davenport, Luticha Doucette, Anne Finger, Joseph J. Fins, Shane Fistell, Paula M. Fitzgibbons, Kenny Fries, Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, Jenny Giering, Ona Gritz, Elizabeth Guffey, Jane Eaton Hamilton, Ariel Henle, Edward Hoagland, Alex Hubbard, Liz Jackson, Elizabeth Jameson, Cyndi Jones, Anne Kaier, Georgina Kleege, Rachel Kolb, Elliott Kukla, Catherine Kudlick, Emily Ladau, Laurie Clements Lambeth, Alaina Leary, Riva Lehrer, Gila Lyons, Ben Mattlin, Zack McDermott , Catherine Monahon, Jonathan Mooney, Susannah Nevison, Joanna Novak, Valerie Piro, Oliver Sacks, Katie Savin, Melissa Shang, Alice Sheppard, Daniel Simpson, Brad Snyder, Andrew Solomon, Rivers Solomon, Carol R. Steinberg, Jillian Weise, Abby L. Wilkerson, Alice Wong

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I. Justice

II. Belonging

III. Working

IV. Navigating

V. Coping

VI. Love

VII. Family


In this exquisite collection drawn from the Times essays series started in 2016, disability is, refreshingly, seen as a part of daily life, even as the contributors discuss facing a “world that does not expect us and is often not made for us.” Ona Gritz, who has right hemiplegia, a form of cerebral palsy, recalls asking a literary agent who suggested she write a memoir, “Would I have to be disabled on every page?” Coeditor Garland-Thomson, having learning her asymmetrical hands and forearms are caused by complex syndactyly, an exceptionally rare genetic condition, no longer feels like an “orphan” but part of a “world of disability pride and advocacy.” Similarly, the late Oliver Sacks finds value in his disability, an increasing loss of hearing, enjoying how “in the realm of mishearing... a biography of cancer can become a biography of Cantor (one of my favorite mathematicians)... and mere mention of Christmas Eve a command to ‘Kiss my feet!’?” The 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act comes up often throughout, making fully clear the turning point it represented. Demonstrating, above all, the value of persistence, Catapano and Garland-Thomson’s anthology merits a spot on everyone’s reading list for its brilliant assemblage of voices and stories. - Publishers Weekly

For three years, The New York Times has hosted “Disability,” a weekly series of essays by and about people with disabilities. The newspaper’s opinion editor Catapano and disabilities scholar Garland-Thomson have selected some 60 pieces from the series, amply fulfilling their aim of representing the diversity and richness of human experience. Although the contributors all have access to language, therefore representing only a partial demographic of the disabled, they discuss common issues, such as the desire for independence balanced with the need for intimacy and caring. As psychologist Andrew Solomon (who was diagnosed with depression) writes in the introduction, the book “is really in many ways about how we seek meaning in who we are rather than in who we might have wished to be.” The essayists convey with uncommon candor how they live with disabilities that include blindness, deafness, panic attacks, anxiety, depression, cerebral palsy, stuttering, paralysis, and Tourette’s. As Garland-Thomson notes, disability can affect anyone, suddenly and randomly: “An oncoming car in the wrong direction can transform the person we think we are today to a different one tomorrow. No other social identity category is so porous and unstable." Several writers found themselves disabled after an accident or injury; others were born with anomalies. Garland-Thomson, for example, has a rare genetic condition that resulted in her having disproportionate arm lengths and only six fingers. Living in a world built for “the fully fingered,” she proved to be resourceful in “developing practical workarounds for the life demands my body did not meet.” Many writers praise the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which helped individuals meet their needs by requiring such adaptions as ramps, Braille materials, hearing assistance equipment, elevators, special parking places, and pedestrian curb cuts. Although several writers resist being called inspiring, their eloquent essays are nothing less. A rich, moving collection. - Kirkus Reviews

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