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Good Kings Bad Kingsby Susan Nussbaum
Synopses & Reviews
This powerful and inspiring debut is the 2012 winner of Barbara Kingsolver's PEN/Bellwether Prize for fiction. Told in alternating perspectives by a varied and vocal cast of characters, Nussbaum's novel pulls back the curtain to reveal the complicated and funny and tough life inside the walls of an institution for juveniles with disabilities. From Yessenia Lopez, who dreams of her next boyfriend and of one day of living outside those walls, to Teddy, a resident who dresses up daily in a full suit and tie, to Mia, who guards a terrifying secret, to Joanne, the new data-entry clerk who suddenly finds herself worrying about each and every kid, Nussbaum has crafted a multifaceted portrait of a way of life hidden from most of us. In this isolated human warehouse on Chicago's South Side, friendships are forged, trust is built, and love affairs begin. And it's in their alliances that the residents ultimately find the strength to bond together, resist their mistreatment, and fight back.
"This is fiction at its best. The story's sharp eye allows no one to take shelter, and it doesn't flinch; it is simply and breathtakingly honest....A stunning accomplishment." Barbara Kingsolver
"[Nussbaum's] novel is all fierce energy and wit, a celebration of strength, dignity, and the cathartic pleasure of telling it like it is." Rosellen Brown, author of "Before and After"
"A mighty first novel....Authentic, galvanizing, and righteous." Booklist, starred review
"Funny, heartbreaking, and inspiring....A stirring debut from a determined writer and activist." Publishers Weekly
"Nussbaum's vivid portraits...reveal the three-dimensional humanity of people the rest of society is all too willing to neglect and ignore....A most appropriate winner of the 2012 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction." Kirkus Reviews
This powerful and inspiring debut invites us into a landscape populated with young people whose lives have been irreversibly changed by misfortune but whose voices resound with resilience, courage, and humor. Inside the halls of ILLC, an institution for juveniles with disabilities, we discover a place that is deeply different from and yet remarkably the same as the world outside. Nussbaum crafts a multifaceted portrait of a way of life hidden from most of us. In this isolated place on Chicago's South Side, friendships are forged, trust is built, and love affairs begin. It's in these alliances that the residents of this neglected community ultimately find the strength to bond together, resist their mistreatment, and finally fight back. And in the process, each is transformed.
About the Author
Susan Nussbaum’s plays have been widely produced. Her play Mishuganismo is included in the anthology Staring Back: The Disability Experience from the Inside Out. In 2008 she was cited by the Utne Reader as one of “50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World” for her work with girls with disabilities. This is her first novel.
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