This year NCW was delighted to support The Barbellion Prize a new book prize dedicated to supporting and promoting ill and disabled voices in writing. The prize is awarded annually to an author whose work has best spoken, in the view of the judges, to the experience of chronic illness and/or disability.

The awarded work can be of any genre in fiction, memoir, biography, poetry, or critical non-fiction from around the world – whether it is in English, in translation, traditionally published, or self-published. The prize is named in homage to English diarist W.N.P. Barbellion, who wrote eloquently on his life with multiple sclerosis (MS) before his death in 1919.

Explore the 2020 longlist below and add your favourites to your shopping basket…


Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist 

by Judith Heumann & Kristen Joiner

One of the most influential disability rights activists in US history tells her personal story of fighting for the right to receive an education, have a job, and just be human.

A story of fighting to belong in a world that wasn’t built for all of us and of one woman’s activism–from the streets of Brooklyn and San Francisco to inside the halls of Washington–Being Heumann recounts Judy Heumann’s lifelong battle to achieve respect, acceptance, and inclusion in society.

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Roots of Corruption

 by Laura Laakso

On the night of Samhain, the veil between worlds is at its thinnest, and ancient magic runs wild in Old London.

When Lady Bergamon is attacked in her Ivy Street garden, Wishearth turns to Yannia for help. Who could have the power to harm Lady Bergamon in her own domain? While Yannia searches for the answer, nature herself appears to be killing Mages in Old London. Yannia and Karrion join forces with New Scotland Yard to solve the baffling Mage deaths. But wherever they turn, all the clues point back towards Ivy Street.

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Disfigured: On Fairy Tales, Disability, and Making Space

by Amanda Leduc

In fairy tales, happy endings are the norm – as long as you’re beautiful and walk on two legs. After all, the ogre never gets the princess. And since fairy tales are the foundational myths of our culture, how can a girl with a disability ever think she’ll have a happy ending?

By examining the ways that fairy tales have shaped our expectations of disability, Disfigured will point the way toward a new world where disability is no longer a punishment or impediment but operates, instead, as a way of centering a protagonist and helping them to cement their own place in a story, and from there, the world.

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Golem Girl: A Memoir

by Riva Lehrer

The vividly told, gloriously illustrated memoir of an artist born with disabilities who searches for freedom and connection in a society afraid of strange bodies. Written with the vivid, cinematic prose of a visual artist, and the love and playfulness that defines all of Riva’s work, Golem Girl is an extraordinary story of tenacity and creativity.

With the author’s magnificent portraits featured throughout, this memoir invites us to stretch ourselves toward a world where bodies flow between all possible forms of what it is to be human.

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The Fragments of My Father: A Memoir of Madness, Love and Being a Carer

by Sam Mills

“It was as though my life were suspended – as though, when my father had first fallen sick, I had inhaled, and I was still waiting to let out that gasp of breath…”

The Fragments of My Father is a powerful memoir about madness, love and what it means to be a carer. It’s about how hard it can become to sustain relationships and keep promises and to construct the story of your own life when someone else is relying entirely on you for their wellbeing. But it’s also an affecting account of the surprising and precious consolation that can come from caring for another person, and of seeing the individual behind the illness.

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Sanatorium

by Abi Palmer

A young woman spends a month taking the waters at a thermal water-based rehabilitation facility in Budapest.

On her return to London, she attempts to continue her recovery using an £80 inflatable blue bathtub. The tub becomes a metaphor for the intrusion of disability; a trip hazard in the middle of an unsuitable room, slowly deflating and in constant danger of falling apart.

Sanatorium moves through contrasting spaces — bathtub to thermal pool, land to water, day to night — interlacing memoir, poetry and meditations on the body to create a mesmerising, mercurial debut.

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Kika & Me

by Amit Patel

Amit Patel is working as a trauma doctor when a rare condition causes him to lose his sight within thirty-six hours. Totally dependent on others and terrified of stepping outside with a white cane after he’s assaulted, he hits rock bottom. He refuses to leave home on his own for three months. With the support of his wife Seema he slowly adapts to his new situation, but how could life ever be the way it was?

From the challenges of travelling when blind to becoming a parent for the first time, Kika & Me is the moving, heart-warming and inspirational story of Amit’s sight-loss journey and how one guide dog changed his world.

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Saving Lucia

by Anna Vaught

The Hon. Violet Gibson shot Mussolini in 1926 and spent the rest of her days in a Mental Hospital. A fellow ‘patient’ was Lucia Joyce, daughter of James. It is a novel inspired by some of the most interesting women in the history of psychiatry, Blanche, Queen of the hysterics in Paris and Annie O, one of Freud’s patients,  their identities have been denuded, shaped by the rhetoric’s of men, quick to deem these women ‘lunatics’, giving voice to individuals whose screams and whispers can no longer be heard.

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The winner will be announced on 12th February 2021. For more information see: www.thebarbellionprize.com