Every Cripple a Superhero

Every Cripple a Superhero

Summary

'A skilful act of literary witness, sharp, moving and funny' Joanne Limburg
'Makes you sit up and take notice' Saiten Magazine
'Christoph Keller ... ranks among the great Swiss writers' Neue Zürcher Zeitung

Most stories of disability follow a familiar pattern: Life Before Accident. Life After Accident. For Christoph Keller, it was different: his childhood diagnosis with a form of Spinal Muscular Atrophy only revealed what had been with him since birth. SMA III, the 'kindest one', allows those who have it to live a long life, and it progresses slowly. There is no cure. By the age of 25, he had to use a wheelchair some of the time. 'There were two of me: Walking Me. Rolling Me.' By 32, he could still walk into a restaurant with a cane or on somebody's arm. At 45, 'Rolling Me' took over altogether.

Intimate, absurdist and winningly frank, Every Cripple a Superhero is at once a memoir of life with a progressive disorder, and a profound exploration of the challenges of loving, being loved, and living a public life - navigating restaurants, aeroplanes, museums and artists' retreats - in a world not designed for you. Threaded throughout are Keller's own photographs of the unexpected beauty found in puddle-filled 'curb cuts', the pavement ramps that, left to disintegrate, form part of the urban obstacle course. Those puddles become portals into a different, truer city; and, as they do, so this book - told with humour and immense grace - begins to uncover a truer world: one where the 'normal' is not normal, where disability is far more widespread than we might think, and where there always exist, just alongside our own, the lives of everyday superheroes.

Reviews

  • Fascinating . . . [The book is] a series of snapshots, anecdotes, poems and short stories about what it is to be disabled in a world that isn't very interested in accommodating disability. This isn't an angry book, it's a very funny one . . . compelling and unsettling. The tension between Keller's intellect and his physical weakness courses through the writing . . . Yet his gripe is not with his own physical limitations . . . Keller is asking us to consider whether it is disability that is the problem, or whether it is a society that insists on seeing people with disabilities that way
    Rosie Kinchen, The Sunday Times

About the author

Christoph Keller

Born in Switzerland, Christoph Keller is a novelist, memoirist and editor. His books include the bestselling 2003 memoir-novel Der beste Tänzer (The Best Dancer) and 2019's Der Boden unter den Füßen (The Ground Beneath Our Feet; winner of the Alemannic Literature Prize). Based for many years in New York City, he now lives in St Gallen.
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