Minnesota Public Radio interview with Andrew Solomon on his new book Far from the Tree which explores disability and identity:
Following up his National Book Award-winning work of nonfiction on depression, “The Noonday Demon,” Solomon amassed hours and hours of interviews with more than 300 families dealing with profound differences in their children, from deafness and dwarfism to prodigies and criminality.
AP: What surprised you about what you found?
Solomon: I think I went into this project thinking, OK, I’m going to look at these terribly difficult situations and see how people have struggled with them and look at the nobility of their suffering, so I wanted to write about, you know, the grandeur of this experience.
But what I didn’t really anticipate was how much genuine joy I would encounter, how many of these people talked about a deep and meaningful connection to their children, and how many of them said that having had children who had any of these qualities had actually made them better, stronger, wiser, kinder people than they otherwise would have been. In the end I felt that many of these parents ended up grateful for experiences they would have done anything to avoid.
AP: This book was a journey to parenthood for you. How did this project lead you to embrace the role?
Solomon: A lot of people have said to me, surely writing a book about all of the things that can go horribly wrong in parenting would have been enough to put anyone off the idea of becoming a parent. And I said actually, what I think the book is really about is the fact that people do manage to love the children they have, whoever those children are, and it made me think, gee, if I have a child who presents some challenges, or I can say now when my children grow up some challenges, whatever they are, I think I’ll be better equipped to respond to those challenges in a positive and constructive way and I’ll be more certain that those challenges aren’t going to undermine feelings of love. So it made me feel more confident in the extraordinary and embracing quality of parental love.
Read more here.