Going Blind: A Memoir (excelsior editions/State University of New York Press), by S. Mara Faulkner, is a finalist for a Minnesota Book Award in the category of Memoir and Creative Nonfiction.
S. Mara is an associate professor of English at College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University and a sister at Saint Benedict's Monastery.
Her book is among the finalists named in eight categories announced by The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library, in consortium with the Saint Paul Public Library and the Mayor's Office of the City of Saint Paul.
S. Mara grew up in a family shaped by Irish ancestry, a close-to-the-bone existence in rural North Dakota, and the secret of her father's blindness-along with the silence and shame surrounding it. Dennis Faulkner had retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic disease that gradually blinded him and one that may blind many members of his family, including S. Mara.
In Going Blind she explores blindness in its many permutations, within the context of her family, more broadly, as a disability marked by misconceptions, and as a widely used cultural metaphor. S. Mara weaves her family's story into an analysis of the roots and ramifications of the various metaphorical meanings of blindness, touching on the Catholic Church of the 1940s and 1950s, Japanese internment, the Germans from Russia who dominated her hometown, and the experiences of Native people in North Dakota. She asks whether it's possible to find gifts when sight is lost.
Award winners will be announced at the 22nd Annual Minnesota Book Awards Gala on April 17, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, in downtown Saint Paul. The opening reception begins at 6:30 p.m., followed by the awards ceremony at 8 p.m. Tickets are $40 and are available by visiting www.thefriends.org or calling 651-222-3242.
Going Blind is available at the CSB/SJU Bookstores. For additional information on the 22nd Annual Minnesota Book Awards or the gala, please visit www.thefriends.org or call 651-366-6497.
(Posted February 5, 2010)