The Winner of The Barbellion Prize 2020 is 'GOLEM GIRL: A MEMOIR' by Riva Lehrer (published by One World/Virago).
In choosing Golem Girl: A Memoir, by renowned artist and writer Riva Lehrer, the judges agreed this is a brilliant social account of the history of disability, worthy of all its praise, and an estimable celebration of art and disabled life.
With the author’s powerful portraits included throughout, Golem Girl takes its readers into Riva Lehrer’s experiences as an artist born with disabilities into a world that is challenged by difference.
Barbellion Prize founder and director, Jake Goldsmith, says: “Golem Girl has been chosen from an already amazing shortlist, as well as a choice longlist. One that shows the depth and variety of what can be offered from literature that represents disability. Riva’s work deserves all its celebration.”
Author and Assistant Professor of Literature, Dr Shahd Alshammari, and member of the judging panel says: “Golem Girl is a memoir that is infused with art, life, discrimination, love, self-love, and what it means to be vulnerable. Disability is on every page — and that is the type of literature we need.”
Fellow judge, Cat Mitchell, Lecturer and Programme Leader of the Writing and Publishing degree at the University of Derby, says: “Golem Girl is a powerful and wide-reaching account of a life lived with disability. By interweaving her writing and art, Riva explores queerness, community, society’s fear of difference, and the often problematic representation of disabled bodies in art and medicine.”
Speaking from her home in Chicago, Riva Lehrer says: “I woke up this morning and learned that my memoir, Golem Girl, had won The Barbellion Prize. What an appropriate time to hear the results of the award, with the dawn of a new era. The Barbellion Prize is helping inaugurate a new era for Disability Culture; one in which we're not shoved to the margins of Specialdom, but take our place among our cultural peers, and to create a more equal world through art. Thank you so much for choosing Golem Girl as the debut representative of your vision.”
Advisor to the Prize, Professor Tom Shakespeare FBA, Professor of Disability Research at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine says: “From Pope to Stevenson, Woolf to Plath, writers have lived with illness and disability for centuries. Now here comes exactly the right prize at the right time: disabled writers have been locked down far longer, and deserve far more recognition than they get. The Barbellion Prize deserves to succeed, and Riva Lehrer’s Golem Girl will put it on the map.”
Praise for Golem Girl
“Golem Girl is luminous… a profound portrait of the artist as a young – and mature – woman; an unflinching social history of disability over the last six decades; and a hymn to life, love, family and spirit.” - David Mitchell, author of Cloud Atlas.
“Not your typical memoir about ‘what it’s like to be disabled in a non-disabled world’ . . . Lehrer tells her stories about becoming the monster she was always meant to be: glorious, defiant, unbound, and voracious. Read it!” - Alice Wong, founder and director, Disability Visibility Project.
About the Author
Riva Lehrer is an artist, writer, and curator whose work focuses on issues of physical identity and the socially challenged body. She is best known for representations of people with impairments, and those whose sexuality or gender identity have long been stigmatised. A long-time faculty member of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Riva Lehrer is currently an instructor in medical humanities at Northwestern University. https://www.rivalehrerart.com/
January 8th 2021.
The Barbellion Prize Shortlist for 2020:
Bloggers' reviews of our Shortlisted works can be found here:
December 12th 2020.
The Barbellion Prize Longlist for 2020: