In the Province of the Gods: Disability, Sexuality, Mortality and Things Japanese: Kenny Fries in conversation with Karen Nakamura
Colloquium: Center for Japanese Studies | October 9 | 4 p.m. | 180 Doe Library
Kenny Fries, Author
Karen Nakamura, UC Berkeley
A disabled foreigner in Japan, a society most people think of as hostile to difference, Kenny Fries finds himself on a journey of profound self-discovery. As he visits gardens, experiences Noh and butoh, and meets artists and scholars, he discovers disabled gods, one-eyed samurai, blind chanting priests, and atomic bomb survivors. When he is diagnosed as HIV positive, all his assumptions about Japan, the body, and mortality are shaken, requiring him to find a way to reenter life on new terms.
Marie Mutsuki Mockett, author of Where the Dead Pause, and the Japanese Say Goodbye, says, In this subtle page turner, Fries helps reinvent the travel-as-pilgrimage narrative. He neither exoticizes nor shies away from the potential pitfalls of a western mind traveling abroad; instead he demonstrates how, through an all too rare open heart and a true poets eye, bridges can be built, and understanding deepened, one sincere action at a time.
Kenny Fries will read briefly from his new memoir In the Province of the Gods, then have a conversation with Professor Karen Nakamura, as well as a discussion with the audience. Join us to hear two luminaries of disability studies who have never met before talk about disability, sexuality, intersectionality, HIV, mortality, and Japan.