Jennifer Natalya Fink
Writer and Professor
Washington, DC (USA)
From May 17 to May 24, 2019
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.
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.