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So Lucky: A Novel Paperback – May 15, 2018
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"A compact, brutal story of losing power and creating community . . . So Lucky is beautifully written, with a flexible, efficient precision that embodies the protagonist's voice and character." ―Amal El-Mohtar, The New York Times Book Review
"A short, fast-paced whirlwind of a novel . . . Spine-tingling and in places downright terrifying" ―The Independent (UK)
"A narrative that at once informs, confronts, puzzles and engages. I have little doubt that readers who take it up will be rewarded." ―Lambda Literary
"This book is a body-slam of empowerment, a roar of frustration so sustained and compelling that it cannot be ignored... a tough, accomplished novel, a book that readers didn’t know they needed." ―The Arts Fuse
"A fresh and powerful novel and antidote to the sense of victimhood." ―Booklist
“So Lucky is somehow both a tense psychological thriller and a subtle character portrait, packed full of pleasure (so closely observed) and pain (so deep, so real). Nicola Griffith is an essential writer, and with this book she's given us something personal, political, and totally unputdownable.” ―Robin Sloan, author of Sourdough
“All too often, stories glide past issues of the body, as if our minds operated suspended in air above us, as if everything we experience doesn't come through our physical selves. But what happens when our relation to our own body turns adversarial Successfully disguised as a page-turning thriller, So Lucky is also a deep meditation on marginalization, vulnerability, and resistance.” ―Karen Joy Fowler, author of The Jane Austen Book Club
“In So Lucky, Nicola Griffith replicates the actual experience of becoming disabled. This genre-violating story begins straightforwardly then slides into a hallucinatory exploration of the body, reality, and identity. It is disorienting, destabilizing, and game-changing. I have never read anything like it.” ―Riva Lehrer, artist and curator
“Nicola Griffith is a brilliant creator of fierce female protagonists. With So Lucky, she fires a gritty, scary, wrathful, sometimes blisteringly funny broadside at the monsters of ableist culture.” ―Maria Dahvana Headley, author of The Mere Wife
“In Nicola Griffith's So Lucky, Mara is a vibrant, active, social justice minded woman stalked by a phantom. The phantom threatens her work, her relationships―nothing less than her identity. This angry, funny, cleverly-written piece about the onset of disability in a world that values fitness above all ushers in a new wave of disability story. Or let’s hope so.” ―Susan Nussbaum, author of Good Kings Bad Kings
“Nicola Griffith's So Lucky is compelling reading, a tour de force of the onset of disability. This is the first novel I have read that describes an autobiographical experience of disability from Day One with a relentlessness that can parallel disability itself. It is intense, sad, and dramatic, combining mystery, romance, terror (internal and external), and hope. Just like life itself.” ―Steven E. Brown, Co-Founder of the Institute on Disability Culture
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Nothing gives me more joy in life than a book that's un-put-downable. SO LUCKY is one of those books. I couldn't stop reading even as it flayed me raw.
Buy this book, read it, then give it to someone else. It should be read, by many.
Top international reviews
There is an underlying anger and bitterness that runs through the whole book. Mara’s life has become about loses, with very few gains. She has lost her wife to divorce, her new potential romance has left the country, she must use mobility devices to get around, she is fired from her job, she requires drugs to alleviate symptoms of the drugs that treat MS. It is no wonder that that she is angry and bitter. Her gains she has actively had to seek out and make for herself. Not liking the available support group, she utilises her previous experience running not for profit to build a community for those like her who have MS, finds supports that they can access and goes around doing talks to drum up funding and awareness of her new not for profit.
Griffith is writing about some of her experiences with MS and this makes for a much more nuanced story. The metaphor of the shadow that is following her and the robbery/murders that are steadily making their way closer and closer, adds to the urgency to find the right combination of pills, the right therapy that will help Mara live a “normal” life. You can feel the bitterness of this incurable diagnosis, the hurt of knowing that you will never get better, that you can only manage it; this only comes with writing from experience. Griffith utilizes quite a few examples of how people treat and react to those with disabilities to emphasize the frustrations these individuals feel. From being called too emotional when calling out discrimination, to being completely dismissed in the airport and talked over, to being dismissed as no longer being able to what they were once able to and as a consequence dismissed.
Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book. I found the story very compelling. Mara has so many things happen to her in a short period of time; divorce, MS diagnosis, her new love interest moves to the other side of the world and then she is fired from her job. The ever present but never quite seen shadow that follows her around is a metaphor for the looming and ever increasing loses that accompany MS. Griffith highlights several ableist stereotypes that Mara faces within her writing.