Tuesday, 24 April 2012

T.C. Boyle, Signed

T.C. Boyle is coming to Germany to promote his new novel, When the Killing's Done (translated by Dirk van Gunsteren). And because one of his previous novels (Talk, Talk) had a deaf protagonist, the German Deaf Association has arranged for two of his readings to be signed.

I know nothing about T.C. Boyle except that I don't like his hair, and very little about German Sign Language except that it has its own grammar where, as far as I recall, if you list things you have to do it according to size going from large to small, for example. In other words there's a table, a plate, a glass, a salt shaker and a toothpick. But I like the idea of making readings accessible to deaf people, seeing as books already are. Apparently they're still looking for funding for the interpreter at the Berlin event, so if you're a wealthy patron of the arts and happen to read this, do get in touch with them.

I had a very brief look for German writing featuring deaf people - and found only this Amazon list of novels and films. As in the case of other minorities, young adult fiction and crime writing seem to have discovered deaf characters and thus reflect reality, whereas literary fiction is still in a world of its own without attempting to confront disability.

And another brief search revealed that while there are a good few events with sign language interpreters for children in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, adult events seem to be rare. Interestingly, I note that the Edinburgh International Book Festival does offer signing at some events. Perhaps its partner festival in Berlin might follow suit if the T.C. Boyle readings go well?

German Sign Language is officially recognised in Germany, and deaf people have the right to use interpreters when visiting doctors, in court, when communicating with official bodies, etc. I know a couple of GSL interpreters who are both very busy. In terms of funding access to mainstream culture, however, it seems there's some way to go yet for the German state.

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