Today, Tuesday, May 2, 2017, the University of Wisconsin–Madison Chancellor, Rebecca Blank, announced that the forthcoming 2017-2018 Go Big Read book is to be Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance.
“a deeply moving memoir with its share of humor and vividly colorful figures”
In Hillbilly Elegy, Vance provides his personal reflection on upward mobility in America seen through the lens of a white, working-class family in the Midwest. The ninth book in the history of the Go Big Read program, this year’s selection offers “a deeply moving memoir with its share of humor and vividly colorful figures.” The author is acutely aware of the many struggles “hillbilly” populations face—having himself descended from Kentucky “hill people” and grown up in a declining Ohio steel town. (jdvance.com).
As the official UW-Madison press release states, “Many have credited the book with providing understanding of the lives of those struggling with economic decline;” however, many critics have questioned whether the text presents an overly simplistic view of “poverty and personal responsibility” (news.wisc.edu).
Yet, as Chancellor Blank shares, the nuances presented in the text echo the Go Big Read program’s “history of choosing books with challenging and timely topics” that “generate a lively conversation about a set of important issues, about which people can agree or disagree” (news.wisc.edu).
We are excited to see what discussions and critical classroom engagement this book will bring to campus next year! For more information on the text and its author, please visit the news.wisc.edu.
Student Assistant, Go Big Read Office