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  • Published: 1 November 2022
  • ISBN: 9780241593219
  • Imprint: Allen Lane
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 192
  • RRP: $37.00

Every Cripple a Superhero

An intimate, eye-opening exploration of the trials - and joys - of life with a progressive disability

Most stories of disability follow a familiar pattern: Life Before Accident. Life After Accident. For Christoph Keller, it was different: his childhood diagnosis with a form of Spinal Muscular Atrophy only revealed what had been with him since birth. SMA III, the 'kindest one', allows those who have it to live a long life, and it progresses slowly. There is no cure. By the age of 25, he had to use a wheelchair some of the time. 'There were two of me: Walking Me. Rolling Me.' By 32, he could still walk into a restaurant with a cane or on somebody's arm. At 45, 'Rolling Me' took over altogether.

Intimate, absurdist and winningly frank, Every Cripple a Superhero is at once a memoir of life with a progressive disorder, and a profound exploration of the challenges of loving, being loved, and living a public life - navigating restaurants, aeroplanes, museums and artists' retreats - in a world not designed for you. Threaded throughout are Keller's own photographs of the unexpected beauty found in puddle-filled 'curb cuts', the pavement ramps that, left to disintegrate, form part of the urban obstacle course. Those puddles become portals into a different, truer city; and, as they do, so this book - told with humour and immense grace - begins to uncover a truer world: one where the 'normal' is not normal, where disability is far more widespread than we might think, and where there always exist, just alongside our own, the lives of everyday superheroes.

  • Published: 1 November 2022
  • ISBN: 9780241593219
  • Imprint: Allen Lane
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 192
  • RRP: $37.00

About the author

Christoph Keller

Christoph Keller is a Swiss novelist and playwright. His memoir, The Best Dancer, about living with disability, was a bestseller. He is the co-author of a forthcoming biography of the American poet Muriel Rukeyser, to be published by Alfred A. Knopf. He divides his time between New York and St Gallen, Switzerland. He loves beer.

Praise for Every Cripple a Superhero


SRF 2 Kultur

Explosive and moving, the book also has a real capacity to open the eyes of readers and to change attitudes

Procap Magazine

Frighteningly funny ... Every Cripple a Superhero calls for compassion and outrage

Die Tageszeitung

Ingenious ... an impressive document of life in a world of radical optimisation


Christoph Keller is bursting with drive, creative power and loudly audible love


Shocking ... Keller's humor is quiet and sophisticated, melancholic and sarcastic, wide awake and always open to the unexpectedly beautiful ... [his] book has a lightness that brings tears to your eyes


An eye-opener


An unorthodox and provocative interrogation of what it means to be a person with a physical disability in the 21st century

SRF, 'Kontext' podcast

As touching as it is sobering, often painful but never tearful ... [Keller] vehemently insists on the right to participate in public life

St Galler Tagblatt

Christoph Keller describes directly and relentlessly what it means not only to be disabled, but to be disabled by defective sidewalks, by the degrading procedures involved in boarding a plane, by the demeaning response [one receives] when shopping, in museums, in restaurants, both in Switzerland and in the USA

Deutschlandfunk Kultur

Makes you sit up and take notice

Saiten Magazine

Christoph Keller is not concerned with complaints, but with making the issue of disability visible ... With literary cunning, he brings up the delicate topic in a way that is at once witty and relentlessly direct ... Every Cripple a Superhero is a socio-political appeal and at the same time a literary experiment


A skilful act of literary witness, sharp, moving and funny

Joanne Limburg, author of Letters to My Weird Sisters

What is it like to have a 'wasting' disease? In Every Cripple a Superhero, the excellence of Christoph Keller's writing is matched by its fearlessness. Precision, tragicomedy, quiet rage, elegant storytelling; every awkwardness, every frustration, every terror, every abjection is illuminated by the superpower of his style. No word or phrase is wasted in this marvellous book. And by the way, it is also a love story

Alicia Ostriker, New York State Poet Laureate 2018-2021 and author of The Volcano and After: Selected and New Poems 2002-2019

An eye-opener regarding the everyday obstacles the author has to overcome when negotiating his local environment. The passage describing the absurd, insulting, and tragi-comic experience of visiting an award-winning new building and finding the only way to enter by wheelchair is via a remote corner of the building should be compulsory reading for anyone aiming to design inclusive spaces

Laura Vaughan, Professor of Urban Form and Society, Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London

Everyone who doesn't use a wheelchair, and everyone who does, should read Christoph Keller's Every Cripple A Superhero. So many worlds exist side-by-side, yet we seldom truly enter the experience of another. Grace, strength, and humor are superpowers of extraordinary depth and stature, and Keller's slender, powerful book glows like a supernova

Jayne Anne Phillips, author of Quiet Dell and Lark and Termite

Pondering the title of this remarkable book, I wondered why I came away from it not thinking of its author as a superhero. Certainly, it is the work of an artist of singular skill and power. The answer, I realized, is that there is something inhuman about superheroes. Christoph Keller, by contrast, inspires our awe precisely because he demonstrates, with extraordinary wit, honesty, grace, and courage, what that well-worn phrase - "to live a fully human life" - really means

Harold Schechter, Professor Emeritus, Queens College, CUNY

Christoph Keller ... ranks among the great Swiss writers

Neue Zürcher Zeitung

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