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In the Province of the Gods

(Living Out: Gay and Lesbian Autobiographies)

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  32 ratings  ·  8 reviews
Kenny Fries embarks on a journey of profound self-discovery as a disabled foreigner in Japan, a society historically hostile to difference. As he visits gardens, experiences Noh and butoh, and meets artists and scholars, he also discovers disabled gods, one-eyed samurai, blind chanting priests, and A-bomb survivors. When he is diagnosed as HIV positive, all his assumptions ...more
Hardcover, 216 pages
Published September 19th 2017 by University of Wisconsin Press
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Nanako Mizushima
Jul 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The author Kenny Fries and I have several things in common. A fascination with traditional Japanese culture -- such things as mono no aware (an awareness of things), bakemono (spirits including ghosts), and Ebisu(a popular Japanese mythological god). But there are also sharp differences between us. Fries is a gaijin ("outsider" = foreigner) while I am the daughter of Japanese immigrants. He is also disabled, gay and is diagnosed as HIV positive. And he writes about his experiences in Japan while ...more
Barb
Sep 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
(Finished in September, 2017) This book made me feel more alive and more human. I appreciated the way it introduced me to Japan to make me want to go *learn* more about the Japanese nouns I read about, rather than just feel like, "I finished the book. I get it. I'm done." Aside from that, it's a bit of a love story and about adding layers to our lives- and about how those layers get added but are more dynamic, more opaque and more transparent at different moments and how those layers connect us ...more
Matthew Gallaway
Oct 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is a beautifully written meditation that describes several trips the author takes to Japan. Initially, his aim is to research the question of what it's like to be disabled in Japan, but over the course of his research, the country and the people he meets function as a kind of mirror (or perhaps door, or both), allowing the author to undergo a process of self-discovery that leads him to valuable and universal insights about the body -- both individually and collectively (humanity) -- ou ...more
William Reichard
Dec 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a remarkable book. Fries' voice is strong, clear, and humble, and his exploration of identity, as a disabled man, as a gay man, as a person living with HIV, and as an American living in Japan, is deep and resonant. The book is a page-turner. Once I started reading, I became so absorbed in it that I didn't want to put it down. The writing is sharp, and creates a real sense of anticipation in the reader, an urge to know what happens next. Fries does a fantastic job of analyzing what it mea ...more
Katarina
Dec 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir, nonfiction
Kenny Fries, a disabled man who has written about disability in western culture, goes to Japan to try to understand how disability is perceived there. The questions he raises extend past what one of his Japanese friends refers to as "physical fact," extend to identity itself--to what extent we create and/or have our identities created for us. Beautifully written and extremely thoughtful, the author also shows how the creative process is unruly, leading him to explore different genres and collabo ...more
Kat
Jan 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, memoir
If you know and love Japan, this book is sure to speak to you. I liked this author's previous two memoirs, but I had a harder time getting into this one because I don't have context for all the Japanese cultural or linguistic references. Still, it's a meditative, introspective journey that is sweetly and bravely told. ...more
Steven Nolan
Mar 11, 2021 rated it really liked it
This made me want to read and learn more about Japan. Really interesting look at the intersection of disability, queerness, and Japanese culture.
Kevix Mark
Oct 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
travels in Japan. an end and a beginning. disabled gods. flowers and rocks. fortunes.
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Kenny Fries received the prestigious Creative Capital literature grant for In the Province of the Gods. He is the author of Body, Remember: A Memoir and The History of My Shoes and the Evolution of Darwin’s Theory, winner of the Outstanding Book Award from the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights. He is the editor of Staring Back: The Disability Experience from the Insid ...more

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