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A New York Times-bestselling author's personal examination of how the experiences, art, and disabilities of Frida Kahlo shaped her life as an amputee.
At first sight of Frida Kahlo’s painting The Two Fridas, Emily Rapp Black felt a connection with the artist. An amputee from childhood, Rapp Black grew up with a succession of prosthetic limbs and learned that she had to hide her disability from the world.
Kahlo sustained lifelong injuries after a horrific bus crash, and her right leg was eventually amputated. In Kahlo’s art, Rapp Black recognized her own life, from the numerous operations to the compulsion to create to silence pain. Here she tells her story of losing her infant son to Tay-Sachs, giving birth to a daughter, and learning to accept her body. She writes of how Frida Kahlo inspired her to find a way forward when all seemed lost.
Book cover image: Frida Kahlo, prosthetic limb. Frida Kahlo & Diego Rivera Archives. Bank of Mexico, Fiduciary in the Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo Museum Trust.
About the Author
Emily Rapp Black is the author of Poster Child: A Memoir and The Still Point of the Turning World, a New York Times bestseller and an Editors’ Pick. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including Vogue; The New York Times; Time; The Wall Street Journal; O, The Oprah Magazine; and the Los Angeles Times. She is a regular contributor to The New York Times Book Review and is the nonfiction editor of the Los Angeles Review of Books. Rapp is currently an associate professor of creative writing at the University of California, Riverside, where she also teaches medical narratives in the university’s School of Medicine.
“This book is a wild masterpiece. It is about everything that matters: mortality, motherhood, desire, love, the body, art, writing, survival. Remarkably, the author is able to express the chaos of grief and anger without ever losing control. The fire of Frida Kahlo’s spirit courses through this book and twins with the author’s own attempts to understand her life, and survive. It is brilliant, furious, funny, gorgeously written, terribly sad and, without being sentimental, hopeful. I am sure that any feeling being will love and treasure this generous, remarkable book.” —Matthew Zapruder, author of Why Poetry and Father’s Day
“With endless intellect and intimacy, Emily Rapp Black brings us a book without parallel, a book that will become well-worn by readers who have passed it on, saying, here, you have to read this. In Frida Kahlo and My Left Leg, Rapp Black scours and thinks and confides not in order to write an impossibly original work of art, though she has, but to survive all that has threatened her body and soul. Is it peculiar, then, to say that Frida Kahlo is one of the great loves of her life? For this is the story, and this is the bond between two artists in whom there is no hiding, just expressive, salvific brilliance. Read this. This book might just get you through.” —Katie Ford, poet and author of If You Have to Go and Blood Lyrics