Emma Capps – Feldman Prize in Fiction, 2021

 “How to Be in a Coma: an autobiographical instruction comic" explodes our conception of what it means to be in a coma—and to wake from it. Right from the start, the author sets up a dissonance between the bright and even comical “how to” illustrations and the increasingly grim and specific story of a comatose child in a pediatrics ward with the "scrunched figure of your father trying to sleep next to you" on a little bed. We learn of the many indignities a comatose person may suffer, as well as the tiny moments of hope, such as when "[a] cheap chocolate becomes a prayer flowering upon the tongue." In the end, though, as this brave and original work illustrates, when you are in a coma, "you have no option but to accept it."