2019

Jennifer Natalya Fink

Writer and Professor

Washington, DC (USA)

From May 17 to May 24, 2019

Biography —

Personal Website

Jennifer Natalya Fink is the author of five published novels, including most recently the Doctorow Prize-winning novel Bhopal Dance (FC2:2018) and The Dana Award for the Novel for The Mikvah Queen (2010). Fink is a professor of creative writing at Georgetown University, and has served as a jurist for the Caine Prize for African Fiction. She founded The Gorilla Press, a non-profit aimed at promoting youth literacy through bookmaking. She also works as a disability activist, co-founding the disability studies minor at Georgetown.  Her work is represented by Amanda Annis at Trident Media.

Project —

Every family story is also a disability story. My Cousin XY was born in Delaware with Down syndrome—and immediately abandoned to a US state institution. He was listed only as ‘Baby XY’.  My Cousin Rhona, also born with Down syndrome, was raised in a Scottish branch of my family, who founded a Jewish institution for the disabled. Drawing on disability studies, queer theory, and theology, I explore the larger questions this double narrative raises. Who is a human subject, and who decides? How can ritual both de- and rehumanize people labeled ‘disabled’? What does it mean to truly include disability in our lives and narratives? Through my original concept of disability lineage, I examine the uncomfortable truths about the of costs this system of disinheritance, and imagine a new model of valuing and including all our kin, in all our families.   I journey across continents and into my own soul, forging a spiritual lineage that includes and celebrates my nonspeaking daughter.