With Deaf Awareness Week running 6th-12th May, we’ve curated a collection of brilliant books that explore deaf culture, deaf history, and the lives of deaf characters. By turns stirring, moving and exhilarating, there are novels here for all tastes, whether you’re into literary fiction, top-notch crime thrillers, or coming-of-age page-turners.

Talking of which, we simply have to highlight Sara Novic’s True Biz, a recent read we can’t stop raving about. Set in an American residential school for the deaf, this powerful, tender, illuminating story relates the coming-of-age turmoil and political awakening of a teenage girl who’s been let down by doctors and the medical system. The novel also shares insights into deaf history and American Sign Language – I really couldn’t put it down. 

If you’re into crime and mystery, Will Dean’s Dark Pines is a brilliant slice of Scandi-noir, with main character Tuva determined to make her name as a journalist, overcoming negativity towards her deafness as she strives to fathom an unsolved murder from twenty years ago. 

Then there’s the prize-winning page-turner by Emma Viskic - Resurrection Bay sees deaf insurance investigator Caleb Zelic investigating the death of a friend in an exhilaratingly twisty plot. Meanwhile, Jeffery Deaver’s A Maiden’s Grave sees a group of deaf students taken hostage by escaped convicts, with their trainee teacher seizing the chance to use sign language to concoct an escape plan.

For younger readers (or the young at heart), we have a whole Collection devoted to children’s books featuring unforgettable deaf or hard-of-hearing characters. Here we’d like to highlight Cece Bell’s El Deafo - an empowering, multi-award-winning graphic novel memoir about the author-illustrator’s hearing loss as a child.

Looking for fine non-fiction on the theme of deafness? Try Inside Deaf Culture and Oliver Sacks’ Seeing Voices.