Year of the Tiger by Alice Wong, Can be read in a few nights depending on your speed, Memoir
A quote that I really appreciated: “No one is disposable or invisible.” p. 273
I’ll admit I didn’t know who Alice Wong was until very recently, but for several years now I have learned a lot about disability activism just from her twitter account. I admired her from afar and had this book on my TBR since its release. So, I was very excited when it was chosen for the Chronically Iconic Bookclub’s Nonfiction November read.
Billed as a memoir, Year of the Tiger is so much more than that. Through a compilation of essays—some published elsewhere and some new for the book, artwork, and other written mediums (e.g., recipes), Wong not only tells her story, but also tells the story of disability activism past, present, and (potentially) future.
Some of my favorite pieces were the ones where she predicted the future and the changes we would live through. These pieces leave you feeling hopeful about how we will tackle ableism and make the world a more inclusive and accessible place.
The essays about her life pre-ADA accommodations were also revealing. The American with Disabilities Act has been in place most of my life and while I know it’s not perfect, I also could not envision a world in which some basic accommodations are not offered. So it was interesting to learn about how Wong navigated the world without those accommodations and how the lack of the most requirements to support disabled people impacted her life. At the same time, those essays also highlight just how much more we need to do to get to that future world she writes about.
While reading about her struggles was frustrating, the book as a whole is hopeful. It is a testament to the power of one person, let alone one community, to fight for what’s right. It’s a call to action to those of us who want to be better allies to step the fuck up. It’s a reminder that none of us are free until all of us are free.
And, frankly, it’s funny! Wong’s humor is clearly something that has helped make it in a frustrating world, but it also adds levity to an otherwise serious issue. Her humor turns what could be a dry, academic book into a very readable and personal one.If you can’t tell, I really enjoyed this book and I’m glad we have people like Wong in the world. This is a must read for anyone wanting to better understand issues around disability justice.