Disability in Darnell Arnoult's Novel Sufficient Grace

In a time when disability is something often seen, but less often talked about in Appalachia, it is, perhaps unsurprising that Disability Studies and Appalachian Studies rarely intersect. This is seen in both in the broad field of Appalachian Studies, and its literary components. This lack of intersection is especially true when it is not the grotesque being considered, but actual physical and/or mental disabilities in Appalachian literature being viewed through a Disability Studies lens. When the grotesque is considered (and depicted) within Appalachian literature, what message does this send to the many disabled people throughout Appalachia (and the whole U.S.)? For this reason, it is imperative Disability Studies scholars and Appalachian Studies scholars begin to learn and apply both fields to what they are investigating.

Taking this advice, Elizabeth Glass uses Disability Studies to explore the psychiatric disability of Gracie Hollaman, the main character in Darnell Arnoult’s novel Sufficient Grace. Sufficient Grace is not only set in Southern Appalachia, but Arnoult is one of Appalachia’s own. Using the fields of Disability Studies and Appalachian Studies together allows for a deeper understanding of both the character Gracie Hollaman and the novel Sufficient Grace. Intersecting these fields will deepen the comprehension of any piece of creative writing or other situation when disability and Appalachia are both involved.