Deaf Utopia: A Memoir – And a Love Letter to a Way of Life by Nyle DiMarco with Robert Siebert
Summary: In this moving and engrossing memoir, Nyle shares stories, both heartbreaking and humorous, of what it means to navigate a world built for hearing people. From growing up in a rough-and-tumble childhood in Queens with his big and loving Italian-American family to where he is now, Nyle has always been driven to explore beyond the boundaries given him. A college math major and athlete at Gallaudet—the famed university for the Deaf in Washington, DC—Nyle was drawn as a young man to acting, and dove headfirst into the reality show competitions America’s Next Top Model and Dancing with the Stars—ultimately winning both competitions. Deaf Utopia is more than a memoir, it is a cultural anthem—a proud and defiant song of Deaf culture and a love letter to American Sign Language, Nyle’s primary language. Through his stories and those of his Deaf brothers, parents, and grandparents, Nyle opens many windows into the Deaf experience.
DiMarco’s memoir is open and honest, at turns hilarious and poignant. The subtitle “A memoir – and a love letter to a way of life” is right on; DiMarco draws back the curtain on what it was like to grow up in a big Deaf family, from the joys of ASL signs zinging around the dinner table to the tragedies of discrimination from the hearing world and the language deprivation experienced by his father. In describing his experiences on America’s Next Top Model and Dancing with the Stars, he offers a clear-eyed understanding of the ways producers shape the narratives in reality TV, while also cogently analyzing the accessibility fails along the way. Through candid anecdotes, he tracks his changing understanding of his own sexuality, finally embracing his queer identity. Throughout the narrative, the book weaves in just enough background information about ASL and Deaf culture and history to help even newcomers to the topic understand how DiMarco’s personal story fits into the bigger picture of the multifaceted Deaf community.
DEAF UTOPIA is out now.