Eugene*Grant Profile picture
Aug 10, 2018 18 tweets 5 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
Thread: Just finished this beautiful book in which the protagonist is a strong, powerful woman with #dwarfism - Trudi - living in Germany before, through, and after WW2.

This is the first piece of adult non-fantasy fiction I've read with a #dwarf main character.

A dwarf person in an average height town, Trudi is, in a way, an outsider, and yet central to the community, too.

As a child, she yearns to be average height - she asks the doctor for pills to make her tall, she hangs by her arms from doorways trying to stretch her body.

Children shy away from Trudi as if touching her might turn them into #dwarf people, too.

Adults act as if she is invisible and they say things they wouldn't say if other children were around. For Trudi, this is the beginning of something key...

Her only friend is a boy whose mother dresses him 'like a girl'. A bond forms between them. When he transforms his appearance, she worries looking like other boys will make him *become* like other boys. "The more he shed his difference the further he seemed away from her."

4 /
She struggles at school - bringing with her "years of longing to be like the others", but this only isolates her even more.

Teachers dismiss her assertiveness for pushiness. She is frequently bullied, and yet it is she who gets in trouble when she defies the bullies.

Somehow, Hegi captures perfectly the rage inside Trudi - rage I know so well and maybe other dwarf and disabled people do too - that grows from experiencing injustices on the sole basis that you are different.

For Trudi, "rage carried its own dignity".

And so it does. 🔥

There are moments when Trudi hates her body, but, as a reader, you can't help but feel she is longing to love it.

She longs for acceptance & feels her body is a barrier to this. Had she been accepted, her attitude towards her beautiful dwarf body would change - I think.

"If she couldn't have their acceptance, at least she'd have their stories. Because they could not accept her - they owed her something."

So she finds her power: in mining people's secrets. Ppl assume they know about her, because she's a dwarf but she knows *all* about them.

Hegi also captures the scepticism & disbelief some dwarf & disabled people experience when someone first appears attracted to them - cautious of the authenticity of this person's feelings and the fearful questions: What if they're fetishizing my body? But what if they’re not?

Because she is a dwarf, she's assumed to be asexual. When she's spotted w/ her boyf, ppl assume he's a sexual predator, not her partner.

Trudi herself fuels the lie knowing they don't know about her stories but she knows the truth about theirs - giving her power over them.

Meanwhile, the full horror of the Holocaust is unfolding all around them.

Shops are smashed.

Friends are murdered or taken away.

Trudi and her father help to hide Jewish friends and neighbours from the Gestapo

There’s a lovely scene in which she tells a little Jewish boy about an island of dwarf ppl - a beautiful island, so beautiful they want to keep it from tall ppl.

"They didn't know about [tall ppl] - that's how prejudice starts... and so they were afraid of the difference."

At one point, Trudi herself is jailed by the SS after she criticises the Nazi flag. She is threatened with experiments and asked what it is like to be a dwarf person.

"Being a Zwerg [dwarf] is like carrying your deepest secret on the outside - there for everyone to see."

The book isn’t perfect: there is the odd word that makes me wince, some fat-shaming, and the moment when Trudi uses a neighbour who became disabled during the war to remind herself of what she has - her own inspiration porn.

Ultimately, Hegi captures the pain and also the fire that bridges pain and pride.

But she doesn't really depict anything resembling pride, which is sad. I kept waiting for Trudi to love – not accept, love – herself & her body, but this never happened & I was left wanting.

Ultimately, this is a beautiful book. If you like my tweets, pls consider buying it / getting it from your library. If you want to help make the world better for dwarf people, helping us prove it is profitable to write authentic & powerful dwarf characters is a good start.

NOTE to 13/ My understanding - which is limited and growing - of dwarfism & the Holocaust is that dwarf people who were murdered by the Nazis were killed *because they were Jewish* - but the *way* they were killed was because they had dwarfism. One day, I'll write another thread.
FINALLY FINALLY, I don't think I've given too much away. This book is 500 pages long. It's worth it. Read it.

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More from @MrEugeneGrant

Jul 24, 2018

Thread: Some advice for parents when your small child sees someone with #dwarfism for the first time.

Please read, RT, and, if you yourself are a #dwarf or #disabled person,​add your own ​advice.


I can imagine you feel embarrassed right now…

...but what you do next helps set the foundations on which your child will build their understanding of #dwarfism, #disability, and difference.

The first thing to say is: don't ever encourage your child to point and laugh at people who are different. Ever.

That might ​seem​ obvious, but I've encountered parents who’ve done so - and even filmed me, too.

But these are a tiny minority, so let's move on...

Read 14 tweets
Jul 8, 2018
Thread: Heard of the Seven Dwarfs? Mini-Me? Tyrion?

Cool. Pull up a seat.

Let me tell you about Jeffrey Hudson - a real #dwarf person whose incredible life featured Kings and Queens, pirates and prisoners, soldiers and slaves.

He once shot a man dead for mocking him.

Hudson was born in England in 1619 to poor average height parents.

Not long after, the Duke of Buckingham moved nearby.

When he was 7, the Duchess of Buckingham asked his father to permit Jeffery to live with her.

The Duke 'gave' Jeffrey (you read that right) in **a pie** (you read that right, too) to Queen Henrietta Maria.

If that sounds disgusting and barbaric it's because it is (sadly, this is not the only time this humiliating practice occurred in history).

Read 27 tweets
Apr 8, 2018
Thread: I have #dwarfism.

I knew who the Seven #Dwarfs were by the age of ten.

I knew who Mini Me was by 13. 

I was 31 when I learned who Benjamin Lay was. 

This is important. Please read and RT. 

Born in England 1682, Benjamin Lay was among the first known radical abolitionists. 

He was fearless, compassionate, and principled. 

He was also a #dwarf

A "living stick of dynamite", Benjamin Lay was "one of the very first to call for the abolition of slavery".

He wrote one of the world's first abolitionist books - calling for the church to cast out slave owners.

Read 14 tweets
Feb 28, 2018
Thread: following my tweet about the word "M*dget", lots of people are asking "but what do we call people with #dwarfism?". Listen close...

Please RT 1/
I promise you: the best thing to call someone with #dwarfism is *their name*.

If you don't know their name, ask yourself why you need to refer to their body before knowing who they are. This is important. 2/
3/ Know their name? Good. Then politely ask them how they like to refer to themselves.

It's for them to decide, not you. They are the author of the dictionary that defines them*

Don't know their name? See 2/.

(* I stole this from Zadie Smith)
Read 11 tweets

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