Moving and timely, Ivan Baidak’s novel (In)Visible tells the story of Adam, a 26-year-old man living with Tourette’s syndrome who is trying to construct a life for himself that is not defined by his disability.
Adam joins a support group for individuals living with “challenges” (11), and there he meets others who are, like himself, struggling with both self-definition and ableism. The stories of these support group members are integrated within the novel alongside Adam’s central, anchoring narrative.
Like his character, Adam, Baidak also has Tourette’s syndrome. Baidak inserts himself into Adam’s narrative to proclaim his intentions. He clarifies: “Adam’s story is not the story of my life, and there’s no point looking for similarities. Even so, let me assure you: there’s a lot of truth in it.” (9) Such distinctions aside, Baidak’s life is nevertheless evident in the pages of his work, which is not angry or resentful, but rather, as he states, “a silent coming to terms with my own lived experience. It is a call to not give up on yourself. It is a plea for acceptance of others.” (9)
To this end, the book is a tremendous success. With candour but without sentimentality, Adam’s story outlines what it is like to live, day-by-day with disability. There are the obvious obstacles that many of us would anticipate, like finding a job or maintaining intimate relationships, but Baidak also allows us to glimpse the painful minutiae: the way a disability can rob you of the things you love—or could love—about yourself.
Self-acceptance or self-love explains Adam, “starts with a decision. […] Love for yourself is also a road that you sometimes walk in the dark.” (70) Adam encourages people who are struggling with their disability to focus on trying to love themselves without reason first, and then to be open to the reasons and the life that will come. “Understand, the body is not a person.” (68) With these words, spoken by Anna, a character who lives with facial hemangioma, Baidak seeks to remind us that our essence isn’t defined by real or perceived physical limitations.
This is a thought-provoking narrative that exposes the fortitude and strength of will needed to embrace one’s wholeness despite the reality of an ableist society that views you as defective.
An eye-opening read that will encourage all of us to reconsider our preconceptions and bias.
About the Author
Іvan Baidak is a daring Ukrainian fiction writer and poet whose debut novel Personally Me Personally for You (2013) became a national bestseller and garnered excellent critical reviews. His two short story collections, Role Plays (2014) and The Shadows of Our Dates (2017), topped bookstore bestseller lists. His most recent novel Invisible (2020) was recognized by PEN Ukraine as one of the best novels of 2020, and was the subject of a play and several photo exhibitions. Ivan Baidak’s short stories have been translated into English, German, Serbian, Polish, Spanish, and Italian, and presented at European literary festivals. He received a scholarship from Gaude Polonia 2020. He is from Lviv, Ukraine.
- Publisher : Guernica World Editions; Translation edition (Sept. 15 2022)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 150 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1771838523
- ISBN-13 : 978-1771838528
Hollay Ghadery is a writer living in small-town Ontario. Her fiction, non-fiction and poetry have been published in various literary journals, including The Malahat Review, Room, Grain and The Fiddlehead. In 2004, she graduated from Queen's University with her BAH in English Literature, and in 2007, she graduated from the University of Guelph with her Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. She is the recipient of the Constance Rooke Scholarship in Creative Writing, as well as Ontario Arts Council grants for her poetry and non-fiction. Hollay is the force behind River Street Writing—a collective of freelance writers who create exceptional content and provide creative consultancy services for personal and professional projects. Learn more about them at www.riverstreetwriting.com. Her first book is FUSE.