The UT Disability Studies Program will present award-winning author Susan Nussbaum Tuesday, April 1, at 5 p.m. in Center for the Performing Arts Room 1017.Nussbaum won the 2012 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction for her novel Good Kings Bad Kings, which takes readers into the lives of a group of teens who live in an institution for juveniles with disabilities. This peculiar and isolated landscape is much the same as the world outside: friendships are forged, trust is built, love affairs are kindled, and rules are broken. But those who call it home have little or no control over their fate.
Good Kings Bad Kings challenges ideas of what it means to be disabled in a story told with remarkable authenticity and in voices that resound with humor and spirit.
“Nussbaum wonderfully sweetens a stark subject with doses of idiosyncratic humor and hard-earned pathos,” according to The Wall Street Journal. “She upholds the individuality and integrity of her characters, never stooping to saccharine clichés or Hollywood manipulation.”
The Chicago Tribune noted, “This is a world as foreign to most as another planet. That Nussbaum is able to make it as real and as painful and joyful and alive as she does is a spectacular accomplishment … a joy for readers.”
School Library Journal said, “Each character tells his or her own story in alternating chapters with lively, diverse, authentic voices … Nussbaum will have readers rooting for these brave, vulnerable teens to fight for better lives.”
The Los Angeles Review of Books said, “A knockout . . . Nussbaum possesses an astonishing ear for idiosyncratic voices, and a talent for creating characters who appear in full bloom within a few sentences. This is an easy book to love and admire — but more than that, it’s a book that has the potential to change forever the conversation we are (or are not) having about what it means to be ‘disabled’ . . . In Good Kings Bad Kings, we have the rare opportunity to be awakened by hearing the truth delivered with beauty alongside agony, despair interwoven with possibility.”
Nussbaum is also a playwright and a noted disability rights activist. Her plays have been widely produced. Her play “Mishuganismo” is included in the anthology Staring Back: The Disability Experience From the Inside Out, and her play “No One As Nasty” is included in the anthology Beyond Victims and Villains: Contemporary Plays by Disabled Playwrights.
She is the founder of one of the earliest groups for girls with disabilities, the Empowered Fe Fes. In 2008, she was cited by the Utne Reader as one of “50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World” for her work with girls with disabilities.
Nussbaum’s reading is co-sponsored by the UT School for Interdisciplinary Studies, the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies, and the Humanities Institute.
Parking for Nussbaum’s reading is available in Lot 12 across the street from the Center for the Performing Arts.
For further information on the free, public event, call 419.530.7245.