The disabled are a convenient metaphor for the movies and storytellers, often portrayed as little puddles of misery and misfortune, or as childlike god creatures full of wisdom.
But there is reality in disability.
Good Kings and Bad Kings by Susan Nussbaum is a heroic story about a group of disabled people and the people who work with them in a care facility in Illinois.
The title comes from a line delivered by a particularly cruel worker, who revels in the powerlessness of his disabled wards. Nussbaum, a skilled playwright, disability activist and quadriplegic from a spinal cord injury accident, wrote this novel in first person voices of each of the characters, whom she unflinchingly calls "crips."
The impact is vivid, authentic and funny. The "little nursing home that could" story in this book emerges big, emotional and fresh.
Nussbaum joins The Takeaway to explain how she successfully turns disability into a much more powerful metaphor for the world's struggles with oppression and intolerance.