In the Province of the Gods (University of Wisconsin Press)

An American's journey of profound self-discovery in Japan, and an exquisite tale of cultural and physical difference, sexuality, love, loss, mortality, and the ephemeral nature of beauty and art.

Kenny Fries embarks on a journey of profound self-discovery as a disabled foreigner in Japan, a society historically hostile to difference. As he visits 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 reenter life on new terms.

Praise for In the Province of Gods

"Like the best memoirs, Kenny Fries’s In the Province of the Gods reminds us of the genre’s twinned truths: first, that the surest way to discover the self is to look out at the world, and second, that the best way to teach others about something is to tell them not ‘what it is,’ but what it means to you. Fries’s deft, questioning prose is as full of compassion as curiosity, and his revelations about himself are no less compelling than what he learns about Japan.”—Dale Peck, author of Martin and John

“Elegant and probing, In the Province of the Gods reads like the log of an early adventurer charting a newly discovered land. History, sexual politics, disability, and wooden fortune sticks are blended into an unexpected, tightly written exploration of Japanese culture. Fries may be the guy on the journey, but we’re the ones making the discoveries.”—Susan R. Nussbaum, author of Good Kings, Bad Kings

“In this subtle page turner, Fries helps reinvent the travel-as-pilgrimage narrative.  He neither exoticizes nor shies away from the potential pitfalls of a western mind traveling abroad; instead he demonstrates how, through an all too rare open heart and a true poet’s eye, bridges can be built, and understanding deepened, one sincere action at a time.”—Marie Mutsuki Mockett, author of Where the Dead Pause, and the Japanese Say Goodbye

“Kenny Fries writes out of the pure hot emergency of a mortal being trying to keep himself alive. So much is at stake here—health, affection, culture, trauma, language—but its greatest surprise is what thrives in the midst of suffering. A beautiful book.”—Paul Lisicky, author of The Narrow Door

Kenny Fries is the author of 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 author of the libretto for The Memory Stone, an opera commissioned by Houston Grand Opera. He teaches in the MFA in Creative Writing Program at Goddard College.

Photo by Michael R. Dekker

Emily Rapp Black is the author of Poster Child: A Memoir, and The Still Point of the Turning World, which was a New York Times bestseller and a finalist for the PEN USA Award in Nonfiction. Her book-length lyric essay, Casa Azul Cripple, which examines the intersection of art, disability, and sex through the life and work of Frida Kahlo, is forthcoming from the New York Review of Books/NottingHill Editions in 2020. She is at work on a book about the resilience of objects and forces in the world called The Wingbeats of Insects and Birds, for which she received a 2017 Guggenheim Fellowship. Emily is currently Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at the University of California-Riverside, where she teaches in the MFA in Creative Writing Program and in the School of Medicine. She lives with her husband, writer and editor Kent Black, and their daughter in Redlands, California.

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Friday, October 6, 2017 - 7:30pm
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In the Province of the Gods (Living Out: Gay and Lesbian Autobiog) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780299314200
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Published: University of Wisconsin Press - September 19th, 2017

Body, Remember: A Memoir (Living Out: Gay and Lesbian Autobiog) Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780299190545
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Published: University of Wisconsin Press - July 15th, 2003

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Published: Penguin Books - February 25th, 2014

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Published: Bloomsbury USA - January 2nd, 2008