Disability and the Novel: A Journey to Read Novels with Disabled Characters
There is a definitive lack of representation of characters with disabilities in mainstream literature. Often novels do not treat disabilities fairly or even accurately, they are used as mainly decoration; an example of the authors’ supposed liberal mind. Or, like the “Magic Negro” trope, they are used as a catalyst for the non-disabled protagonist to conquer their conflicts.
Now, I have been thinking about setting up something like the Year of Feminist Classics blog where, hopefully, every month people will read a book with a protagonist who has a disability. I think some preliminary ground rules would be in order:
- the protagonist can have either a physical or a mental disability – someone who is wheelchair bound or perhaps someone with cerebral palsy/ mental disability would be something like Autism or depression, anxiety/OCD etc.
- the protagonist has to be an actual believable character where their disability is accurate & represented in a fair way
- yet they shouldn’t be wholly defined by their disability – they have the same dramas that non-disabled people go through
I think this would be really interesting to do and I think book bloggers have shown that they are willing to broaden their horizons when it comes to reading.
Would anyone be interested in doing this with me? Does anyone have any suggestions of what books to read (fiction & non-fiction & even comics)? What other things do you think should be included in what would make a great character with a disability?