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Good Kings, Bad Kings

'Fiction at its best. A stunning accomplishment.' Barbara Kingsolver

Susan Nussbaum

‘My first week I learned that people refer to ILLC as “illsee”. Emphasis on ‘ill’. The Illinois Learning and Life Skills Center may not sound like the name of a nursing home, but that’s how they work it. Naming these places is all about misdirection. Inside, it smells, sounds, and looks like your standard-issue nursing home. Same old wolf but in a lamb outfit.’

Told in alternating perspectives by a varied cast of characters, Good Kings, Bad Kings is a powerful and inspiring debut that invites us into the lives of a group of teenagers and staff who live at the ILLC. From Yessenia, who dreams of her next boyfriend, to Teddy, a resident who dresses up daily in a full suit and tie, and Mia, who guards a terrifying secret, Nussbaum has crafted a multifaceted portrait of a way of life that challenges our definitions of what it means to be disabled. In a story told with remarkable authenticity, their voices resound with resilience, courage and humour.

  • Publication date: March 27, 2014
  • ISBN: 9781780743851
  • RRP: £8.99
  • Pages: 336
  • Publication date: March 27, 2014
  • ISBN: 9781780743868
  • RRP: £4.99
  • Pages: 336


‘Each voice rings with humour, resilience and courage in the face of adversity… the author somehow manages to create very real points of view, stringing them together in an unusual but entertaining fashion’ 


‘Engaging and powerful… highly recommended’

Disability Arts

'An assured debut… should be read by anyone who has anything to do with the care of disabled people - and by everyone else too.’

Disability Now

‘A ferociously honest, funny, completely unstoppable trip through an institutionally corrupt home for disabled teenagers. I had no intention of going where they took me. That's the thrill of fiction.’

Guardian, Best Books of the YearBarbara Kingsolver

'This is fiction at its best. The story’s sharp eye allows no one to take shelter, and it doesn’t flinch; it is simply and breathtakingly honest... A stunning accomplishment.'

Barbara Kingsolver

'A mighty first novel by a Chicago playwright and disabilities rights activist.'


Susan Nussbaum

Susan Nussbaum’s plays have been widely produced. In 2008 she was cited by the Utne Reader as one of ’50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World’ for her work with girls with disabilities. Good Kings, Bad Kings is her first novel. She lives in Chicago, America.

Author page

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