Kenny Fries is a writer whose work looks at how physical disability provides an understanding of the interconnectedness between individuals and between different cultures. He uses the prism of his life as a writer who lives with a congenital physical disability to forge a new understanding of a wide range of values and ideas, from systems of interdependence to the intersection of multiple identities to eugenics to Darwinian evolution.
Fries is the author of In the Province of the Gods, published in 2017, as well as, 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 Inside Out and was commissioned by Houston Grand Opera to write the libretto for The Memory Stone, His books of poems include Anesthesia, Desert Walking, and In the Gardens of Japan. Kenny’s work has been translated into Japanese, Spanish, and Germany, and has appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, Granta, Kyoto Journal, LiteraryHub, Electric Literature, The Progressive, Catapult, Los Angeles Review of Books, and in many other publications. He writes the disability beat column for How We Get To Next, and developed the Fries Test for disability representation in our culture. Kenny is recipient of a Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center Arts and Literary Arts Fellowship and received the Creative Arts Fellowship from the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts. He has twice been a Fulbright Scholar (Japan and Germany), and has received grants from the DAAD (German Academic Exchange), Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, and Toronto Arts Council. He teaches in the MFA in Creative Writing Program at Goddard College.
From the Journal
- Kenny Fries Considers Disability and the Gods in Japan August 31, 2017
- Access in Content and Form October 1, 2020
In the Province of the Gods
Kenny Fries is a writer whose work looks at how physical disability provides an understanding of the interconnectedness between individuals and between different culturesArtist Bio
An American’s journey of profound self-discovery in Japan, an exquisite tale of cultural and physical difference, sexuality, love, loss, mortality, and the ephemeral nature of beauty and art. A disabled foreigner in Japan—a society historically hostile to difference—Kenny Fries spins a tale of exciting, bewildering adventure. As he visits Japanese 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 about Japan, the body, and mortality are shaken, and he must find a way to re-enter life on new terms.
In the Province of the Gods was published in 2017 by University of Wisconsin Press.