by Amy Boaz
Andrew Solomon’s new book from Scribner, Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity, is a behemoth worth every one of its 976 pages.
You write that before you were able to hear these stories of “horizontal identities”—about children severely disabled, children who were deaf, dwarf, gay, criminal, autistic, schizophrenic, or with some sort of stigma attached —you had a great deal to learn. What was that?
I had to go in without a lot of judgment. My first thought, for example, when I learned about the Deaf movement, was, that’s ridiculous, people don’t want to stay deaf! But over time I began to understand those parallels with my own identity. I had to get to the point where I could understand the human reasons behind their conditions, how much diversity there was in each of these conditions, and how people experience them.
… You chronicle the social progress that has taken place over time in the recognition of these identities. Have we done enough?
We are making progress, and we are living in a more accepting world, but there’s a long way to go. The essential piece of the book is that in order to ennoble one’s unique condition, you have to recognize how much is in common with everyone else.
(To read the full interview, please visit Publishers Weekly.)