Voicing Marginality: Disability in Leila Aboulela's Lyrics Alley
The field of Disability Studies, through globally recognized, rarely takes African fiction as material for analysis. Aboulela's Lyrics Alley [(2010). London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson] offers an opportunity not only for testing the some of the key notions in the discipline, but also for exploring how the literary mode can be presented as an enabling tool for countering marginalization. Loosely based on a true story, the novel traces the life-changing experiences of a young man rendered quadriplegic through a diving accident. The approach of the paper is to examine how Aboulela problematizes the conception of disability as a marginal space, through highlighting how this space potentially becomes one that allows for fresh ways of reading masculinity, nationalism and poetic creativity. Through such an approach, it becomes evident that the portrayal of disability in the novel is a statement against what Tobin Siebers calls the ideology of ability. In the novel, poetry becomes a medium for countering the silencing of the disabled body, challenging hegemonic masculinities, as well as a way of articulating nationalist sentiment.