Good Kings Bad Kings

A long-time disability rights activist and playwright has written a novel that targets life in an institution.
March 23, 2014 6:53:23 AM PDT
A long-time disability rights activist and playwright has written a novel that targets life in an institution.

"Good Kings Bad Kings" is a bellwether award winning novel by Chicago's Susan Nussbaum. It's her first book.

"Well the book takes place in an institution, a nursing home like institution for teenagers with disabilities it's on the South Side of Chicago," Nussbaum said.

Nussbaum, who became disabled from a car accident in the 1970's has never lived in an institution. "It's important that the book feel real to people because those are the kinds of books we all like I think books where you can really identify with a character or hear the character in your mind," she said.

"Some of the stories that I tell are based loosely on things that really do happen for example this nursing home is a very bad place. It's not as bad as some nursing homes but it's worse than many other and it's very hard for these kids," Nussbaum said.

Mike Ervin, another disability rights activist, playwright and director of Victory Garden's Access Project lived in this kind of environment. "It was wonderful I expected it to be great and it was way better than I expected," Ervin said.

"I was a graduate of the school just like the one she wrote about and it I didn't know Susan personally I would've sworn that she was someone who went to and graduated from one of those schools just like me because she captured it so well pitch perfectly that was the greatest part about it," Ervin said.

Nussbaum also says she had personally reasons to write a book. "I thought we needed some disabled people writing about disability instead of people who didn't really live the experience," she said.

"I know that's not what disabled people are like, what they're concerned with, what they sound like, what they do, or talk about. I know that because I know a lot of disabled people and I am one," Nussbaum said.

"Good Kings Bad Kings" by Susan Nussbaum is available in book stores and also online.


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