An interview with the winner of the ELCAF book award
Since 2016 ELCAF and WeTransfer have handed out an award for a book proposal that, for whatever reason, had never been published, to turn it into an actual book. Last year’s winner is David Biskup’s comic There’s Only One Place This Road Ever Ends Up, which tells the difficult story of how his fiancée became ill, and how they both had to deal with the uncertainty that comes with living with disability.
In 2018, David Biskup’s fiancée, Hannah, went into hospital for a routine medical procedure. When the procedure went badly wrong, she suffered serious spine and nerve damage, and her bladder stopped working. The young couple’s lives had changed overnight, and as Hannah lost her job and her mobility, they found themselves having to quickly come to terms with this new reality.
Suddenly hospital appointments, operations and therapy sessions became a mainstay, and they struggled to get to grips with the long, winding road of red tape required to access disability benefits. “We realised that this was not a minor blip to be lived through but instead a huge shift in the trajectory of our shared lives,” David says.
David’s comic, There’s Only One Place This Road Ever Ends Up, is his attempt to make sense of the vast array of emotions he and his fiancée have experienced together since their lives changed.
In it, he discusses their disbelief as members of the public refused to give up their seat on the train for his disabled fiancée, and their fear as Hannah made sure he knew she loved him just before a string of operations, “just in case.” He often shows the funny side, as is often so necessary in these circumstances, as fentanyl made Hannah suddenly desperate to go to Paperchase straight after an operation. Most poignantly, he documents the love that the couple kept for each other regardless, with one scene showing them dancing together serenely in their living room.
David says; “The emphasis of the book is not on illness, disability, depression or hardship but instead on sharing a life together, the everyday intimacy of caring for somebody and finding a way to live well in spite of it all.” In one scene, they sit admiring the view together during a holiday to Lisbon that Hannah feared would be ruined by her disability. “My cheeks hurt from squinting at the sun and smiling too hard for too long,” says the caption.