Disability in Genre Fiction

Publication year

The online version of the book gives the publication year as 2017 but the print version (details visible thanks to Google Books) gives 2018. I have used the date given in the print version.

The conventions of individual genres enable particular types of disability narrative, and while some of these genre-shaped stories of disability shore up dominant discourses, others challenge them. By analyzing two exemplary textsAbigail Padgetts crime novel Strawgirl (1994) and Fay Robinsons romance A Man Like Mac (2000)this chapter demonstrates how genre frameworks can facilitate the creation of narratives of disability that trouble reductive beliefs about disabled people.These two novels offer particularly good examples of how texts can work with, and against, genre conventions to encourage readerly reflection upon disability, but the potential to do so is inherent in all genre fictions. (186)


Fay Robinsons A Man Like Mac (2000) is in some ways an extremely conventional romance. Keely, the heroine, finds her happily ever after with Mac, her former athletics coach, and the novel ends not just with the couple united but with a babylogueindicating that they are expecting their first child. However, this conventional framework enables a story to be told that positions disabled people as both desiring and desirable, and the novel recognizes and values forms of sexual activity and sexual pleasure not conforming to the norm of penile-vaginal sex leading to orgasm. (191)


romance has its own set of disability-related tropes. Motifs such as the blow to the head which restores a visually impaired characters sight, or the kissing of a scar to symbolize acceptance of the imperfectbody, have attained the status of naturalized conventions in the genre, familiar and anticipated. A recurring trope in romance novels featuring a disabled protagonist is a belief on the part of the disabled character that they are unworthy of their nondisabled partners lovea trope that Robinsons novel reworks in productive ways. (193)