A memoir penned with one good finger, Ndopu writes about being profoundly disabled and profoundly successful.
Global humanitarian Eddie Ndopu was born with spinal muscular atrophy, a rare degenerative motor neuron disease affecting his mobility. He was told that he wouldn’t live beyond age five and yet, Ndopu thrived. He grew up loving pop music, lip syncing the latest hits, and watching The Bold and the Beautiful for the haute couture, and was the only wheelchair user at his school, where he flourished academically. By his late teens, he had become a sought after speaker, travelling the world to address audiences about disability justice.
Ndopu was ecstatic when he was later accepted on a full scholarship into one of the world's most prestigious schools, Oxford University. But he soon learns that it's not just the medical community he must thwart— it's the educational one too.
In Sipping Dom Pérignon Through a Straw, we follow Ndopu, sporting his oversized, bejewelled sunglasses, as he scales the mountain of success, only to find exclusion, discrimination, and neglect waiting for him on the other side. Like every other student, Ndopu tries to keep up appearances—dashing to and from his public policy lectures before meeting for cocktails with his squad, all while campaigning to become student body president. Privately, however, Ndopu faces obstacles that are all too familiar to people with disabilities, yet remain unnoticed by most people. With the revolving door of care aides, hefty bills, and a lack of support from the university, Ndopu feels alienated by his environment. As he soars professionally, sipping champagne with world leaders, he continues to feel the loneliness and pressure of being the only one in the room. Determined to carve out his place in the world, he must challenge bias at the highest echelons of power and prestige. But as the pressure mounts, Ndopu must find his stride or collapse under the crushing weight of ableism.
Written with his one good finger, this evocative, searing, and vulnerable prose will leave you spellbound by Ndopu’s remarkable journey to reach beyond ableism, reminding us of our own capacity for resilience.
About the Author
Described by TIME magazine as “one of the most powerful disabled people on the planet,” Eddie Ndopu is an award-winning global humanitarian and social justice advocate. He serves as one of the UN Secretary-General’s SDG Advocates and sits on the board of the United Nations Foundation. Ndopu has been featured in Forbes, Global Citizen, Rolling Stone, Guardian, OkayAfrica, and more. He lives in New York City.
"Written in a funny, accessible, and remarkable voice that will captivate readers, Ndopu’s book will resonate with disabled and nondisabled readers alike. . . .Sipping Dom Pérignon through a Straw is a vital window into not taking no for an answer and encourages disabled readers to pursue their dreams.”
“Wryly detailing the costs and complications of his attendance at Oxford, Ndopu shines a light on ableism both conscious and unconscious. . . This raw yet triumphant tale should be required reading.” —Publisher's Weekly (Starred)
"As Ndopu deftly shares his life story, he chronicles memorable moments of awe and inspiration as well as dismay and embarrassment at the persistent ways that ableism has made his rise so difficult. One of Ndopu’s greatest strengths as an author is his ability to carry any reader as a collaborator and confidant without neglecting the appropriate indictments of the countless slights, assumptions, and micro- and macroaggressions that he faces. . . . An unflinching memoir of determined self-actualization.” —Kirkus
"South African disability rights activist Eddie Ndopu performs his memoir, bringing his story to life with his thoughtful narration. . . Ndopu’s narration captures his despair at encountering even more ableist systemic barriers to his education. But listeners will also hear steel enter his voice as he recounts how he pushed back, insisting on his rights as a disabled person and advocating for equitable accommodations." —Audiofile
“Eddie Ndopu’s hands aren’t of extensive use to him. He has defied expectations for his whole extraordinary life. He studied at Oxford; he is now one of the world’s leading advocates for disabled people. His one good finger is governed by one very fine brain."—Frank Bruni, New York Times
"This witty and inspiring memoir digs into the highs and lows of one man’s life while navigating ableism. . . The struggles in Sipping Dom Pérignon Through a Straw will make you wonder what it will take to create a truly accessible world for all, and the strength Ndopu took from them will make you want to raise a glass of cold champagne in his honor."—Apple Books Review
“There are many ‘inspirational’ memoirs by disabled people – tales of ‘overcoming’ disability – of overpowering insurmountable odds. Thankfully, Ndopu’s memoir doesn’t fit this bill at all. Sipping Dom Perignon Through a Straw is searing and intimate.”—Washinton Blade
“An assertive, loud call for change at every level.”—Bookworm Sez
“Sipping Dom Perignon Through a Straw is essential reading for anyone who’s ever wondered how they can do right and do better by disabled people. Eddie has provided a template for allyship while remaining uncompromising in his self-worth. He is a masterful writer poised for even more great success.”—Forest Whitaker
“I have seen Eddie when he was still a teenager and walked alongside him as he demonstrated to the world that one need not yield their extraordinary power to the limits placed on their ability. Now, as an author, Eddie brings us into his reality—one filled fun and love yet oversaturated with barriers and challenges. Nestled in these expressive pages is a crucial lesson on the importance of humanity, the need for radical, comprehensive person-first care.” —Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum
“As this gripping tale unfolds, readers will fall in love with the fabulous Eddie Ndopu as they witness the power of sustained advocacy and the beauty of community. Sparkling with wit and wisdom, Eddie Ndopu’s book is a gift for us all.” —Haben Girma, award-winning disability justice advocate and author of Haben
“An incredible and riveting story that leaves an indelible mark on your heart. Eddie Ndopu invites us to imagine a more audacious life—and then to live it. How lucky are we to witness this kind of genius, this kind of glamor"—Alok Vaid-Menon, author of Beyond the Gender Binary
“Eddie Ndopu is a brilliant, courageous and imaginative soul with the kind of conviction that can change the world. We will all benefit from his story.”—Imani Perry, National Book Award winning author of South to America
“With unflinching honesty and vulnerability, Ndopu’s jaw-dropping story serves as a clarion call for a more inclusive and compassionate world. Prepare to be moved, enlightened, and profoundly touched by the extraordinary life and wisdom of Eddie Ndopu.” —Sabrina Dhowre Elba, actress, model, and UN Goodwill Ambassador
Sipping Dom Pérignon Through aStraw not only highlights the injustices and dehumanization that disabled people face daily, but illuminates the need for amplifying disabled voices and disabled self-advocacy. Eddie’s radical transparency about his triumphs in the face of lifelong systemic oppression is profound. —Blair Imani, educator and author of Read This to Get Smarter
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