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University of Wisconsin Madison Go Big Read

Last week, it was announced that Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City had won the distinguished Andrew Carnegie Medal of Excellence in Nonfiction. This prestigious honor, was only the most recent in a slew of awards, honors, and distinctions that the book has received in the last several months.

In this piece, we would like to expound upon the wonderful success of this year’s Go Big Read text. Here are a few of the most exciting awards, honors, distinctions, and praise for Matthew Desmond’s work.

AWARDS

800-CEO-READ Business Book Award — Shortlist 2016 — Books can help create more humane, diverse, modern, and effective businesses, stronger communities, and a better world. The 800-CEO-READ Business Book Awards exist to recognize the best books in the business genre every year, and all the people who help bring them to life. Categories include, Leadership & Strategy, Management & Workplace Culture, Marketing & Sales, Innovation & Creativity, Personal Development & Human Behavior, Current Events & Public Affairs, Narrative & Biography, and Big Ideas & New Perspectives (800ceoread.com).

Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction —Winnner 2017 — The Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction, established in 2012, recognize the best fiction and nonfiction books for adult readers published in the U.S. in the previous year and serve as a guide to help adults select quality reading material. They are the first single-book awards for adult books given by the American Library Association and reflect the expert judgment and insight of library professionals who work closely with adult readers. The winners (one for fiction, one for nonfiction) are announced at an event at the ALA Midwinter Meeting; winning authors receive a $5,000 cash award, and two finalists in each category receive $1,500.(ala.org).

Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Award — Finalist 2016 — Connecting readers with unforgettable new stories since 1990 (barnesandnoble.com).

Kirkus Prize for Non-Fiction — Finalist 2016 — The Kirkus Prize is one of the richest literary awards in the world, with a prize of $50,000 bestowed annually to authors of fiction, nonfiction and young readers’ literature. It was created to celebrate the 81 years of discerning, thoughtful criticism Kirkus Reviews has contributed to both the publishing industry and readers at large (kirkusreviews.com).

L.A. Times Festival of Books, Book Prize in Current Interest – Shortlist 2017 – Since 1980, the LA Times Book Prizes have honored the previous year’s best books and their authors (latimes.com).

MacArthur ‘Genius’ Award — Award Winner 2015 — The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation supports creative people, effective institutions, and influential networks building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. MacArthur is placing a few big bets that truly significant progress is possible on some of the world’s most pressing social challenges, including over-incarceration, global climate change, nuclear risk, and significantly increasing financial capital for the social sector (macfound.org).

National Book Critics Circle Awards — Finalist 2016 — The National Book Critics Circle awards are given each March and honor the best literature published in the United States in six categories—autobiography, biography, criticism, fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. These are the only national literary awards chosen by critics themselves (bookcritics.org).

PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction — Winner 2017 — This biennial prize of $10,000 will go to the author of a distinguished book of general nonfiction possessing notable literary merit and critical perspective and illuminating important contemporary issues which has been published in the United States during the previous two calendar years. The book should possess the qualities of intellectual rigor and importance, perspicuity of expression, and stylistic elegance conspicuous in the writings of author and economist John Kenneth Galbraith, whose four dozen books and countless other publications continue to provide an important and incisive commentary on the American social, intellectual and political scene (pen.org).

Students and faculty in the Sociology Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison gather in the Sewell Social Science Building to hear Desmond speak on Nov. 2, 2016 (Photo by Bryce Richter / UW-Madison).

HONORS, DISTINCTIONS, AND PRAISE

The Boston Globe Review “There have been many well-received urban ethnographies in recent years […] Desmond’s “Evicted’’ surely deserves to takes it place among these. It is an exquisitely crafted, meticulously researched exploration of life on the margins, providing a voice to people who have been shamefully ignored — or, worse, demonized — by opinion makers over the course of decades”

Buzzfeed’s 14 Of The Most Buzzed-About Books Of 2016 “Evicted paints a detailed and heartbreaking portrait of the country’s eviction problem, and how it feeds into a cycle of poverty”

The Guardian’s Best Holiday Reads 2016 “An essential piece of reportage about poverty and profit in urban America”

The Financial Times Review “It is eloquent, too, on the harm eviction does — not just to individuals but also to communities and to the quality of civic and urban life”

The L.A. Time’s 10 Most Important Books of 2016 “Desmond, now a Harvard professor, has a close-up empathy that makes the book lasting”

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Review “It is a magnificent, richly textured book with a Tolstoyan approach: telling it like it is but with underlying compassion and a respect for the humanity of each character, major or minor”

Minneapolis StarTribune Review “With a relentless realism, Desmond returns to the speed and violence of the eviction process itself — a subject that elicits his most evocative writing. He captures the humiliation of it all”

Mother Jones Evicted is a rich, empathetic feat of storytelling and fieldwork”

The New York Times Ten Best Books of 2016 “Desmond’s empathetic and scrupulously researched book reintroduces the concept of “exploitation” into the poverty debate, showing how eviction, like incarceration, can brand a person for life”

The New York Times Best Seller

The New York Times Critics’ Top Books of 2016 “I’ve come to think of “Evicted” as a comet book — the sort of thing that swings around only every so often, and is, for those who’ve experienced it, pretty much impossible to forget”

Rebecca Skloot, author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks “Beautiful, harrowing, and deeply human, Evicted is a must read for anyone who cares about social justice in this country. I loved it”

Vice Reviews “The poverty of others brings up terrible questions of there-but-for-the-grace-of-God and what if, were your circumstances or skin colour or gender different, that could be you. Your gaze pulls away. But Desmond writes so powerfully and with such persuasive math that he turns your head back and keeps it there: Yes, it could be you”

Vulture’s 8 Books You Need to Read this Month “Living and reporting among Milwaukee’s destitute, intimately getting to know eight families as well as two landlords, Desmond toggles between the numbers and the people, focusing on the daily struggle while keeping the big picture in the frame”

 

These were just a few of the most noteworthy honors for Evicted; the positive feedback is truly astounding and we are so proud of Matthew and his work! We are eager to see what distinctions come next.

 

Morgan Olsen

Student Assistant, Go Big Read Office