I Live a Life Like Yours

Jan Grue, translated from the Norwegian by B.L. Crook. FSG Originals, $17 trade paper (272p) ISBN 978-0-374-60078-5
Norwegian novelist Grue (The Best of All Possible Worlds) elegantly flows between memoir, essay, and intellectual discourse in this magnificent story about living with a disability. Diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy at age three, Grue writes that schoolteachers assumed he “was not going to live for very long.” He juxtaposes doctors’ notes from the 1980s—which depicted a childhood “containing little joy”—with his inspiring story of how he overcame the obstacles of living with a wheelchair through intellect and will. In 2008, he attended UC Berkeley and, after graduating, returned to Norway where he eventually met his wife Ida, who “expressed the outrage I had always felt” and forced him to confront why the nondisabled tend to “look away.” Grue mines how disability has been portrayed in pop culture—with a “particularly tragic aura” or as a trade-off for a supernatural ability (“Professor X from X-Men had to be paralyzed in order to acquire his telepathic abilities”)—as well as his experience online dating in a wheelchair. In doing so, he brilliantly articulates what it’s like to be “erased and rewritten,” and, more poignantly, what it’s like to obliterate the narrative one’s been handed. This stunning work isn’t to be missed. Agent: Norsk Forlag, Gyldendal Agency. (Aug.)
Reviewed on : 05/06/2021
Release date: 08/17/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
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