cover image Deaf Utopia: A Memoir—And a Love Letter to a Way of Life

Deaf Utopia: A Memoir—And a Love Letter to a Way of Life

Nyle DiMarco, with Robert Siebert. Morrow, $27.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-06-306235-1

Activist and model DiMarco debuts with an immensely inspiring story of the experiences, people, and culture that made him “the proud Deaf man I am today.” Expertly weaving in seminal moments from Deaf history, DiMarco paints a vibrant picture of his 1990s childhood growing up in a multigenerational Deaf home; recounts his journey to “coming out my way”; and passionately details his work to improve Deaf representation in media. Along the way, he immerses readers in the rich dialogue of American sign language, rendering conversations in ASL gloss (a typed approximation of ASL using all caps) as a way to effectively “recapture some of [the] lost magic” of translating his native language to the page. As DiMarco explains, while he was “born into a world in which... sign languages [were] generally recognized... [as] languages,” that wasn’t always so—his mother and grandmother, for instance, were forbidden from using ASL at their schools (until it was legitimized in the 1960s, he writes, signing was widely dismissed as “pantomime”). After modeling in college, DiMarco went on to compete in and win America’s Next Top Model, an achievement he used later to prove “just how damn cool it is to be Deaf” by securing a deal with Netflix that would feature Deaf talent both on screen and behind the camera. This exuberant account isn’t to be missed. (Apr.)