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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Heroin Crisis is Taking Lives of Many in Appalachia

“The worst part of overdosing was waking up,” claimed a West Virginia heroin user.

A recent New Yorker article follows the lives of several people in West Virginia, exposing the widespread problem of heroin usage in poorer areas of the Appalachian region.

The Appalachia region. CC Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

A few of the Appalachian states consist of North Carolina, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Mississippi, possessing some of the poorest regions in the country.

West Virginia, an Appalachian state, has the highest overdose death rate in the country.

What used to be a problem with largely prescribed opiate drugs has now pivoted towards a large increase in the use of heroin.

Heroin has become a cheap alternative to prescription pain medication to many people. A recent drop in the use of opioid prescription medications coincided with a spike in heroin usage.

An oxycodone pill now costs around eighty dollars, while a dose of heroin costs a mere ten.

In the memoir Hillbilly Elegy, author J.D. Vance notes several times that prescription drugs were a problem not only in his town, but in his household, with his mother being an addict. He also noted that in his town, it was understood that heroin was thought to be more dangerous than prescription medications; it was a sign of desperation.

Along with the spike in heroin usage, the amount of overdoses has increased immensely as well.

“They’re struggling with using but not wanting to die,” a medic noted.

According to the New Yorker article, nearly all of the addicts in West Virginia are white, born in the area, and have modest to little income. High levels of poverty and joblessness produce psychological distress, which in turn, can be numbed by the use of heroin and prescription drugs. Unfortunately for many of these heroin users, it often leads to overdose.

Heroin can be found in powder and pill form. CC Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

“That’s the scary part- that it’s becoming the norm,” a West Virginia resident said within the article, referring to heroin overdose.

The widespread and detrimental use of heroin on a person can also affect the family as a whole. As seen in Hillbilly Elegy, many children are often exposed to the traumatic effects of having a heroin addict for a parent. A report on child welfare and substance abuse claims that being raised by a drug-dependent parent leads to:

  • poor cognitive, delayed social and emotional development
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • other mental health symptoms
  • physical health issues
  • substance-use problems for the child

For families like J.D. Vance’s, growing up around drugs is a popular issue in their area. Recently, the drug of choice seems to be heroin, in replacement of prescription opioids.

“Heroin has become a social contagion,” claimed psychotherapist Peter Callahan.

How to solve the lethal problem? According to the New Yorker article, it will take time. However, the state of West Virginia has begun to treat the heroin epidemic as a public-health problem and aims to take further steps to diminish this deadly drug that takes the lives of so many Appalachia residents.

Gillian Keebler
Student Assistant, Go Big Read Office

 

What Migration Means for America

“The people who are able to leave very often do so,” explained Hillbilly Elegy author J.D. Vance on leaving his hometown of Middletown, Ohio.

When discussing migration, one is forced to consider the reasons that people decide to leave and the costs that come with doing so. Framed by the greater migration of Appalachian residents to cities in the Rust Belt following World War II, author J.D. Vance chronicles his grandparents’ move from Jackson, Kentucky to Middletown, Ohio, and the adjustments they had to make in their lives away from the community in which they grew up. Vance himself left his hometown as an adult, first serving in the Marine Corps, then moving in order to further his education at Ohio State University and Yale, finally settling in San Francisco for career opportunities.

In March of this year, Vance announced in a New York Times Op-Ed that he and his family would be moving to Columbus, Ohio to found a nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting the opioid epidemic that has spread across the United States. In explaining this decision, he mentions that geographic mobility in the United States has been declining over the last thirty years. The people who move to those areas are those who have the means and skills to be successful in areas of the country where economic opportunities abound, leaving behind struggling towns.

CC Image courtesy of David Mark on Pixabay. Columbus, Ohio.

Vance hopes that by moving back to Ohio, he can help counter this trend sometimes referred to as the “brain drain”. He writes about another friend, Ami Vitori Kimener, who is in a similar transition. Kimener moved back to Middletown, Ohio, after graduating from Georgetown University, to start a business and work to revitalize the city. Yet Vance also states that “not every town can or should be saved”, alluding to the greater debate over what should be done about the towns around the country with few economic prospects and the people who still live in them.

Author J.D. Vance. CC Image Courtesy of the J.D. Vance website.

An article published in The Atlantic last week by Brian Alexander engages with this debate from the perspective of those people who do still live in those areas. Alexander, like Vance, writes about the decrease in internal migration in the United States while acknowledging that researchers are not sure what this means for the future of the country. More importantly, he examines why people in “dying towns” simply do not pick up and move to an area with more opportunity.

Author Brian Alexander. CC Image Courtesy of the Brian Alexander Website.

There are various reasons and factors that go into peoples’ calculations about where to live, some external and some internal. Any solution to this issue will likely complex and nuanced, and studying these factors is an important first step in that direction.

Morgan Sederburg
Student Assistant, Go Big Read Office

Men Disappear from Rust Belt as Unemployment and Addiction Rise

“They’re all on dope or they’re dying up here,” one Ohio woman says of men in a recent Atlantic piece, investigating the burden of male demise in the Rust Belt region (theatlantic.com).

Many cities in West Virginia and elsewhere have deindustrialized. CC Image courtesy of Tim Kiser on Wikimedia Commons.

As the article explains, the exodus of manufacturing jobs starting in the 1950s and 60s in industrialized regions of the Northeast, Midwest, and Appalachia sowed the seeds for a major crisis among Rust Belt males. As stable, respectable jobs departed, many faced chronic unemployment and/or completely departed from the workforce, discouraged from continued rejection. This is especially true in areas of Ohio, like Middletown, where Go Big Read author J.D. Vance grew up. In regions in southern Ohio, 42% of men are either jobless or out of the labor market, compared to the national average rate of roughly 20% (theatlantic.com). For those that found jobs, it was not in Dayton, Utica, or Pittsburgh, but in more service-based economies like Chicago, Minneapolis, and New York. Formerly impressive industrial cities of Detroit, Gary, Buffalo, Charleston (West Virginia), and Cincinnati now have deteriorating populations. In Detroit alone, the population loss has been astounding- diminishing from 1,850,000 to 675,000 over the course of the last 60 years (detroitnews.com). For those men that remained in Rust Belt cities and small towns, without opportunity for retraining, education, or employment, many turned to drugs, particularly opioids. As drug abuse has increased in West Virginia, Ohio, and Kentucky, many men eventually lose their lives.

Detroit by the 1880s had emerged as a growing center for industry. In 1880, it was the 18th largest city in the U.S.

The Detroit skyline in 1942. At the time, it was the 4th largest city in the country and had booming industry.

Detroit, today, functions as the symbolic city of the Rust Belt. It is now not even in the top 20 most populous cities. CC Image courtesy of Albert Duce on Wikimedia Commons.

As the article highlights, deindustrialization, unemployment, and drug addiction have the Rust Belt devoid of men. For instance, in Kanawha County, West Viriginia, an area that has seen upwards of a 55% loss in manufacturing and some of the most concentrated rates of opioid overdoses in the country, women outnumber men 100:93 (whitehouse.gov). This is a dramatic divergence from the natural rate of roughly 100:99 and this trend is widespread throughout the region. With such losses, women in particular – wives, mothers, sisters, and partners of the unemployed and addicted men – are left to “pick up the pieces,” raising children and supporting households financially (theatlantic.com). The region has seen declining marriage rates and increasing proportions of single-parent homes.

Opioids have become an epidemic in recent years, particularly in the Rust Belt.

This single reality is hard for many: lack of second incomes, emotional support, and shared childcare responsibilities weigh heavy on an individual. Many women have defaulted on their mortgages after their partner’s overdose, while others care for upwards of five children by themselves. For anybody, whether man or woman, these kinds of Rust Belt burdens are overwhelming. In this year’s Go Big Read book, Hillbilly Elegy, J.D.’s Mamaw lived out this reality, supporting her grandchildren while her own daughter battled addiction. This immense responsibility always weighed on her.

Hopefully, heightened attention to the region’s struggles and the increasing need for action against opioid abuse will begin to reverse these heavy burdens many Rust Belt women face.

Morgan Olsen

Student Assistant

Integrate Latest Go Big Read Book into your Course!

On Tuesday, Chancellor Rebecca Blank announced the title of the forthcoming 2017-18 Go Big Read book, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance.

Seeing as a key component of the Go Big Read program is the incorporation of the book into academic courses across campus, it’s once more time to consider curricular integration! Some classes will use the book on their required reading lists, while others will offer themes related to the book as optional topics for papers and presentations. The possibilities are truly endless. Furthermore, all students who are enrolled in these participating courses will receive a free copy of the book and will benefit from the critical thinking and discussions the text may inspire.

Last year’s text–Pulitzer Prize winning text, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American Cityby esteemed sociologist and UW alum Matthew Desmond–was incorporated into over 100 diverse courses, ranging from Botany 265: Rainforests and Coral Reefs to Dance 011: Contemporary Dance I and from Genetics 562: Human Cytogenetics to Urban and Regional Planning 590: Making Health Matter in Planning, just to name a few.

Curricular integration and discussion is a key component of the Go Big Read program.

Students gain key critical thinking skills from reading, discussing, and completing assignments about the Go Big Read text.

Like EvictedHillbilly Elegy can be worked into a wide range of classroom spaces, including, but not limited to courses within the studies of Anthropology, Athletic Training, Biology, Communication Arts, Community and Environmental Sociology, Community and Nonprofit Leadership, Economics, Elementary Education, English, Gender and Women’s Studies, Geography, History, Human Development and Family Studies, Journalism, Landscape Architecture, Legal Studies, Management and Human Resources, Nutritional Sciences, Personal Finance, Political Science, Psychology, Real Estate and Urban Land Economics, Religious Studies, Social Welfare or Social Work, Sociology, and Statistics.

Students discuss A Tale for the Time Being, the Go Big Read book of the 2013-2014 academic year, in the classroom.

We hope to see many professors, students, and community members engaging with the text throughout next year. Support from administrators, community leaders, and professors helps to make our program impactful and relevant each year!

For more information about the book and the topics it touches, please click here.

For more information about how to integrate the text into your classroom or your programming, please click here.

 

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance is Chosen as the 2017-18 Go Big Read Book

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).

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance was recently chosen as the 2017-2018 Go Big Read book.

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).

J.D. Vance, author of Hillbilly Elegy.

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.

Morgan Olsen
Student Assistant, Go Big Read Office

Evicted Wins Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction

It is with much pride we share that this year’s Go Big Read text, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, by UW alum and esteemed sociologist Matthew Desmond, has won the Pulitzer Prize.

Evicted was honored Monday as the 2017 Pulitzer Prize winner in General Nonfiction. The board cited the text as “a deeply researched exposé that showed how mass evictions after the 2008 economic crash were less a consequence than a cause of poverty” (pulitzer.org).

Students and faculty in the Sociology Department gather to hear Desmond, recent winner of the Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction, speak on campus this past fall. (Photo by Bryce Richter / UW-Madison)

The Pulitzer Prize is one of the most esteemed honors in all of literature. Set forth in the 1904 will of Joseph Pulitzer, a Hungarian-born, American newspaper publisher, the Prize functions as an “incentive to excellence” (pulitzer.org). Currently, there are 21 awards given each year across a variety of categories including journalism, letters, drama, and music; specific categories include, but are not limited to Breaking News Photography, Drama, Editorial Cartooning, History, Local Reporting, Music, Poetry, and Public Service Journalism. Winners of 20 of the 21 categories receive a certificate and cash reward, while the winner of the Public Service category receives the gold medal.

The Pulitzer Prize Gold Medal, awarded to winners of the Public Service category. CC Image courtesy of Fort Greene Focus on Flickr.

Congratulations to Matthew for this incredible and well deserved honor!

Morgan Olsen
Student Assistant, Go Big Read Office

Go Big Read Art on Display in Teaching and Learning Programs Office

This past fall we shared that the Wisconsin School of Business’s direct admit LEAD course and the Go Big Read program had partnered to harness art as a means to further investigate the ideas presented in Go Big Read social justice texts. The result was 20 unique pieces of art, aimed to address social issues.

LEAD students creating their prints in Wheelhouse Studios.

In the Union’s Wheelhouse Studios last November, LEAD students drew on inspiration from historical and current social justice movement posters and evoked their own knowledge from Go Big Read texts Just Mercy and Evicted  (bus.wisc.edu). All in, 120 students implemented their creativity, collaboratively hand-making 20 beautiful posters.

One print made by LEAD students.

The artwork now hangs in the Go Big Read space, within the Teaching and Learning Programs office within Memorial Library. The prints add wonderful depth and interest to the space and speak to the Go Big Read program’s effort to stimulate campus discussions.

We are so proud to have such incredible student work gracing our walls!

Morgan Olsen

Student Assistant, Go Big Read Office

HUD Faces Major Cuts Under Proposed 2018 Budget

On March 8, The Washington Post reported on considered budget cuts to HUD, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, within the yet to be released 2018 presidential budget proposal. As the Post shared, the Trump administration was in the process of considering “more than $6 billion in cuts” to HUD “according to preliminary budget documents obtained by the [Post]” (Jose A. DelReal, The Washington Post).

Ben Carson, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Trump. CC Image courtesy of Gage Skidmore on Flickr.

Sourced from said documents, “HUD’s budget would shrink by about 14 percent to $40.5 billion in fiscal 2018” year (Jose A. DelReal, The Washington Post). Although the preliminary plans maintain the “same level of funding to rental assistance programs and avoids reductions that could directly put families on the street,” many important portions and programs of the department could be squeezed or cut off completely. Primary losses will be seen within building maintenance, community development projects, and the department’s emergency discretionary funding.

Of primary concern, the proposed budget targets the public housing capital fund, cutting funding by $1.3 billion. As the Post describes, big ticket repairs within public housing facilities will essentially be put completely on hold, exacerbating the “tens of billions in backlogged repairs already [plaguing] the country’s 1.2 million public housing units.” Deteriorating conditions within public buildings will surely have a negative quality-of-life impact on families that rely on public housing.

Meanwhile, a complete removal of the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program is proposed. The CDBG, which has existed for over four decades and has for years has “enjoyed bipartisan support in Congress,” focuses on “[developing] viable urban and rural communities, expanding economic opportunities and improving quality of life, principally for persons of low- and moderate-income” (hud.gov). Providing grants to local governments, the program presents a wide framework in which local governments can easily adapt grant money for housing related community needs, so long as local projects fit within one of the CDBG’s three national objectives of:

  1. Providing benefit to low- and moderate-income persons
  2. Eliminating slums or blighting conditions
  3. Addressing urgent needs to community health and safety

These grants currently impact nearly 12 million Americans yearly. The reach of the program is astounding, each year benefiting 130,000 disabled peoples, 71,000 homeless shelter residents, and 400,000 senior citizens. The grants also provide for homeless, battered spouses, and AIDs patient services, impacting nearly 650,000 people in need in the 2016 fiscal year. In the past grant money has been used for long-term recovery projects in lower Manhattan following 9/11 and disaster relief for natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina (hud.gov).

Houses built in Mississippi following Hurricane Katrina.

Recent CDBG projects like the creation of a new bike trail in New Orleans, the construction of affordable housing units in Milwuakee, and other housing and community initiatives will end following the program’s complete loss of funds (Jose A. DelReal, The Washington Post).

Aside from the CDBG program, the HOME Investment Partnership Program, “which provides block grants for local communities to build affordable housing” and the Choice Neighborhoods program, aimed at investing and redeveloping low income communities, will be fully cut (Jose A. DelReal, The Washington Post).

Meanwhile, large reductions in funding will be seen elsewhere—housing voucher programs will be cut by “at least $300 million,” housing for the elderly will “be cut by $42 million,” and housing for those with disabilities by $29 million. For Native American communities, the Indian Community Development Block Grants (ICDBG) program will be cut by 20% (Jose A. DelReal, The Washington Post). This is a major setback for native populations, which witness a 25.9% poverty rate, an 8% overcrowding rate within households, and an average annual per capita income of only $16,716. These figures compare drastically to a national average of 13.4%, 3%, and $27,041, respectively (hud.gov). The reduction in funding to the ICDBG program will heighten already dire housing situations for these communities.

The president released his Budget Blueprint last past week, and it appears that much of the initial considered HUD budget cuts are maintained. Although it remains ambiguous as to whether the public housing capital and operating funds will sustain major cutbacks, given that they fail to be directly addressed in the president’s brief 1 page summary of HUD’s 2018 funding, it is clear that HUD faces dramatic cuts. With a 2018 budget constraint of $40.7 billion, down from $46.9 billion in the current fiscal year, the department faces an overall 13.2% decrease in finances. What remains on the chopping block, as discussed above, includes the totality of the Community Development Block Grant Program, the HOME Investment Partnership Program, the Choice Neighborhood Program, and the Section 4 Capacity Building for Community Development and Affordable Housing Program.

If these cuts are to progress, serious consequences may be felt throughout low-income communities across the US. As it is, and as we have seen in Evicted, this year’s Go Big Read selection, housing affordability and stability, and strong community structure, are key to the success of families throughout the country. However, many low-income Americans cannot attain these needed support systems. According to a recent report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, throughout the US, only 30 affordable housing units are available on average per 100 low-income families. In certain states like Florida, California, and Nevada, this situation is more dire, with only 27, 21, and 15 affordable housing units available per 100 families, respectively (Tanvi Misra, Citylab). An inability to afford housing leads to a cycle of unsuitable living conditions, eviction, homelessness, health consequences, lack of proper education, and much more.

A view of an affordable housing complex in Santa Monica, CA. CC Image courtesy of Calderoliver on Wikimedia Commons.

Many of the to-be-cut programs allow for more affordable, properly functioning, and stable housing situations for low-income households, permitting families to set down roots, integrate wholly into the local education system, and create key relationships with neighbors. These processes have lasting positive effects not only on their individual prospects, but on the community as a whole. A loss to HUD funding will slow or reverse many of these key benefits that many low-income and marginalized groups rely on for betterment and upward mobility.

 

Morgan Olsen
Student Assistant, Go Big Read Office

Gov. Walker’s New Budget Proposal Includes Funding to Fight Homelessness

Street Pulse, Wisconsin’s Homeless/Marginalized Newspaper, recently reported exciting news surrounding Governor Walker’s 2017-2019 Executive Budget: the proposed state budget will include major funding and program developments that will directly impact, and possibly improve, homelessness and housing scarcity in Wisconsin (Street Pulse).

As the article in the March 2017 issue shares, for the first time in 25 years there will be an increase in funding directed towards fighting homelessness.

Governor Scott Walker, pictured here, and Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch recently proposed increased funding for homelessness prevention in the Wisconsin 2017-2019 Executive Budget. CC Image courtesy of Gage Skidmore on Flickr.

Highlights of the budget include:

  1. $500,000 per year in TANF funds for intensive case management services for homeless families within homeless shelters – services will focus on financial counseling, school enrollment, professional networking, and enrollment for unemployed or underemployed individuals in W2 or FSET programs
  2. Piloting of prioritization of Housing Choice Vouchers for the chronically homeless – pilot program will give priority for housing vouchers to individuals who are deemed chronically homeless, hopefully curbing homelessness rates
  3. $660,800 yearly expansion of Open Avenues to Reentry Success (OARS) to five additional counties – program focuses on serving mentally ill patients following release from prison so they may more easily adapt to life after serving sentences, thus decreasing risk for homelessness
  4. Provide $75,000 in funds for pilot homeless employment program based on Albuquerque’s “Better Way” initiative – pilot will provide homeless individuals with work experience and routine through municipal jobs like park maintenance
  5.  Mend Wisconsin’s transitional housing statute – remedy will ease the process of granting funds to support homelessness prevention and rapid rehousing
  6. Create Homeless Services Coordinator position within the Department of Health Services – Coordinator will work with homeless agencies and municipalities to develop a waiver program for homeless housing transition; waiver program will support housing searches, tenant training, and appropriate documentation so as to ensure successful housing placement for homeless individuals

These proposed tenants of the new 2017-2019 budget provide a stronger support system for homeless individuals and those grappling with the housing epidemic currently occurring in America. Furthermore, this framework allows for a wider safety net for those facing eviction in the state of Wisconsin, like those Matthew Desmond worked with in Milwaukee.

 

 

Morgan Olsen

Student Assistant, Go Big Read Program

 

To learn more about Street Pulse newspaper and it’s unique approach to combating homelessness in Madison, check out this article by the Isthmus.

 

Awards & Honors for Evicted

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 — Winner 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).

Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction — Winner 2017 — This yearly prize of $15,000 is awarded for a distinguished and appropriately documented book of nonfiction by an American author that is not eligible for consideration in any other [Pulitzer Prize] category (pulitzer.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”

The Pulitzer Prize Board “A deeply researched exposé that show[s] how mass evictions after the 2008 economic crash were less a consequence than a cause of poverty”

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