Andrew Solomon is the author of The Irony Tower: Soviet Artists in a Time of Glasnost, A Stone Boat, The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression, winner of fourteen national awards, including the 2001 National Book Award, and Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity.
From his Q & A with Jeremy Adam Smith of the Greater Good Science Center:
Jeremy Adam Smith: Why did you write this book?See Andrew Solomon's five top books about family love.
Andrew Solomon: Twenty years ago my editors at the New York Times asked me to write about the deaf on the grounds that I had done a lot of reporting about foreign cultures and this was a foreign culture in our midst.
I immediately saw parallels between the experiences of deaf people, with their claim on culture that was questioned by the outside world, and gay people, who had made a similar claim. And I found that most deaf children are born to hearing parents, and that most gay children are of course born to straight parents. I wrote a lot about the ways in which in exploring the deaf experience I found this resonance with my own experience as a gay man.
Then a few years later a friend of a friend of mine had a daughter who was a dwarf, and I heard her asking all the same kinds of questions that hearing parents of deaf children asked themselves: “Do I bring her up to be friends with other dwarfs? Do I tell her she just like everyone else, only she’s shorter? What is the approach supposed to be here?”
As I listened to that experience, I suddenly saw this recurring theme: this idea of parents who perceive themselves to be normal and children who perceive themselves to be different—and parents who don’t know how to deal with these children who are different. If it’s true...[read on]