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Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City

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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE NAMED ONE OF TIME’S TEN BEST NONFICTION BOOKS OF THE DECADE One of the most acclaimed books of our time, this modern classic “has set a new standard for reporting on poverty” (Barbara Ehrenreich, The New York Times Book Review).

In Evicted, Princeton sociologist and MacArthur “Genius” Matthew Desmond follows eight families in Milwaukee as they each struggle to keep a roof over their heads. Hailed as “wrenching and revelatory” (The Nation), “vivid and unsettling” (New York Review of Books), Evicted transforms our understanding of poverty and economic exploitation while providing fresh ideas for solving one of twenty-first-century America’s most devastating problems. Its unforgettable scenes of hope and loss remind us of the centrality of home, without which nothing else is possible. 

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY President Barack Obama  The New York Times Book Review  The Boston Globe  The Washington Post  NPR  Entertainment Weekly  The New Yorker  Bloomberg  Esquire  BuzzFeed Fortune  San Francisco Chronicle  Milwaukee Journal Sentinel  St. Louis Post-Dispatch  Politico  The Week  Chicago Public Library  BookPage  Kirkus Reviews  Library Journal   Publishers Weekly  Booklist  Shelf Awareness

WINNER OF: The National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction The PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction The Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction The Hillman Prize for Book Journalism The PEN/New England Award The Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize

FINALIST FOR THE LOS ANGELES TIMES BOOK PRIZE AND THE KIRKUS PRIZE

Evicted stands among the very best of the social justice books.”—Ann Patchett, author of Bel Canto and Commonwealth 

“Gripping and moving—tragic, too.”—Jesmyn Ward, author of Salvage the Bones

Evicted is that rare work that has something genuinely new to say about poverty.”—San Francisco Chronicle

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Review:

An Amazon Best Book of March 2016: It’s the rare writer who can capture a social ill with a clear-eyed, nonjudgmental tone and still allow the messiness of real people its due. Matthew Desmond does just that with Evicted as he explores the stories of tenants and landlords in the poorest areas of Milwaukee during 2008 and 2009. It’s almost always a compliment to say that a nonfiction book reads like a novel and this one does – mostly because Desmond gets very close to the “characters,” relating their words and thoughts and layering on enough vibrant details to make every rented property or trailer come alive. You can almost forget that these are actual people with actual problems until he delivers a raw jolt of reality: the woman who’s evicted because her boyfriend beats her up; the tenant whose baby daughter dies in a house fire; the tenant who pushes a “friend” out a window for using all her cell phone minutes; the landlord who refuses to fix stopped-up pipes, so tenants allow garbage and sewage to pile up in the property.

Through both personal stories and data, Desmond proves that eviction undermines self, family, and community, bearing down disproportionately hard on women with children. In Milwaukee, being behind on rent gives landlords the opening to serve an eviction notice, which leads to a court date. On the face of it, it may seem easy to side with the landlords—of course tenants should pay their rent. But as Evicted pulls back layer after layer, what’s exposed is a cycle of hurt that all parties—landlord, tenant, city—inflict on one another. Whether readers agree with Desmond’s conclusions for how to break this cycle in order to strengthen families and neighborhoods, it’s obvious by the end of Evicted that there is no easy fix, and that people—some addicts, some criminals—will slip through the cracks. But it should be just as obvious that we must still try.

—Adrian Liang

About the Author:

Matthew Desmond is a professor of sociology at Princeton University. After receiving his Ph.D. in 2010 from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, he joined the Harvard Society of Fellows as a Junior Fellow. He is the author of four books, including Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, which won the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Critics Circle Award, and Carnegie Medal, and PEN / John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction. The principal investigator of The Eviction Lab, Desmond’s research focuses on poverty in America, city life, housing insecurity, public policy, racial inequality, and ethnography. He is the recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, the American Bar Association’s Silver Gavel Award, and the William Julius Wilson Early Career Award. A contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine, Desmond was listed in 2016 among the Politico 50 as one of “fifty people across the country who are most influencing the national political debate.”

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