ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Rethinking Advocacy through Disability-themed Children’s ‘Fiction’

The Space We’re In and In the Meadow of Fantasies open up space for talking about disability in ways that are delightfully simple and evocative.

When we hear of disability-themed children’s fiction, we often think of stories of children with visible disabilities who are portrayed as having special abilities to compensate for their disability. Such representations depict inclusion—whether in the family, school, or among peers—as possible when disability is “overcome.” Yet, within disability studies, there has been considerable critique of such “inspiration porn,” also referred to as “supercrip narratives” that place the burden of overcoming disability on the disabled person. For instance, many disabled people have been critical of the paralympics or similar events that celebrate the “achievements” of disabled persons or of patronising language such as divyang to refer to disabled persons. Moving away from such stereotypic and cliched representations, many authors narrate stories and experiences of everyday and mundane life situations. Two striking examples of those are Katya Balen’s The Space We’re In (2019) and Hadi Mohammadi’s In the Meadow of Fantasies (2021).

The Space We’re In is a wondrous book that strives to find streaks of light in the darkest of times, without negating the darkness. Balen’s masterful storytelling pulls the reader into a fascinating exploration of the inside world of a 10-year-old boy, who is as much a little child as he is a wise philosopher. Through his words unfolds a world of beauty, sadness, confusion, loss, disintegration, and eventual hope and reconstruction. This is not just a story of recovery from loss but of remaking oneself anew. This is the sort of book that one should read all at one go, curled up into a space of one’s own.

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Updated On : 10th Apr, 2023
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