I am pleased to announce that Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond is the selection for the 2018-2019 Georgia State University First-Year Book Program. Desmond will be the keynote speaker at Freshman Convocation on Sunday, August 19, 2018. Throughout the fall semester, programs and events related to Evicted will be offered across all Georgia State University campuses.
Evicted personalizes the struggle against homelessness for eight families in Milwaukee, Wisconsin through documenting how eviction, economic exploitation, race, gender, drug abuse, and public policy impact the safety, security and basic humanity of these families. combining ethnographic fieldwork with original statistical analyses, Desmond finds that eviction functions as a cause, not just a condition, of poverty. With its central themes of social justice, community, and the necessity of shelter, Evicted explores why affordable housing is fundamental to American cities and how addressing the housing challenge starts with acknowledging the importance of home.
Matthew Desmond is a professor of sociology at Princeton University. He is a recipient of the MacArthur Foundation Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award for Non Fiction, and the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction. Evicted was named one of the Best Books of 2016 by nearly three dozen outlets, including The New York Times and The Washington Post. Recently, Desmond established an Eviction Lab at Princeton to study the prevalence, causes and consequences of housing insecurity.
The First-Year Book Program aims to provide all incoming freshman students with a common intellectual experience to stimulate discussion, to promote critical thinking, and to develop a sense of community among first-year students, faculty and staff. Students are expected to read the book before the start of their first semester.
Allison Calhoun-Brown, Ph.D.
Associate Vice President for Student Success
Start Off the School Year With a Good Book
Throughout the fall semester, programs and events related to the book will be offered. The first event associated with the book will take place on Sunday, August 19, 2018, when the author of the book will be the keynote speaker at Freshman Convocation.
All incoming freshmen will receive a copy of the selection during New Student Orientation; students are expected to read the book before the start of their first semester. The book will also be covered in Engl 1101 English Composition and in GSU 1010 New Student Orientation, among other courses.
The goals of the First-Year Book Program are to:
- promote academic discourse and critical thinking
- provide an introduction to the expectations of higher education
- integrate an academic and social experience into the campus community
- raise awareness and tolerance of cultural likenesses and differences
- create a sense of community
In this brilliant, heartbreaking book, Matthew Desmond takes us into the poorest neighborhoods of Milwaukee to tell the story of eight families on the edge. Arleen is a single mother trying to raise her two sons on the $20 a month she has left after paying for their rundown apartment. Scott is a gentle nurse consumed by a heroin addiction. Lamar, a man with no legs and a neighborhood full of boys to look after, tries to work his way out of debt. Vanetta participates in a botched stickup after her hours are cut. All are spending almost everything they have on rent, and all have fallen behind.
The fates of these families are in the hands of two landlords: Sherrena Tarver, a former schoolteacher turned inner-city entrepreneur, and Tobin Charney, who runs one of the worst trailer parks in Milwaukee. They loathe some of their tenants and are fond of others, but as Sherrena puts it, “Love don’t pay the bills.” She moves to evict Arleen and her boys a few days before Christmas.
Even in the most desolate areas of American cities, evictions used to be rare. But today, most poor renting families are spending more than half of their income on housing, and eviction has become ordinary, especially for single mothers. In vivid, intimate prose, Desmond provides a ground-level view of one of the most urgent issues facing America today. As we see families forced into shelters, squalid apartments, or more dangerous neighborhoods, we bear witness to the human cost of America’s vast inequality—and to people’s determination and intelligence in the face of hardship.
Based on years of embedded fieldwork and painstakingly gathered data, this masterful book transforms our understanding of extreme poverty and economic exploitation while providing fresh ideas for solving a devastating, uniquely American problem. Its unforgettable scenes of hope and loss remind us of the centrality of home, without which nothing else is possible.
About The Author: Desmond is a professor of sociology at Princeton University. His primary teaching and research interests include urban sociology, poverty, race and ethnicity, organizations and work, social theory, and ethnography. In 2015, Desmond was awarded his MacArthur Genius Grant for “revealing the impact of eviction on the lives of the urban poor and its role in perpetuating racial and economic inequality.” In 2018, he received the Stowe Prize for Writing to Advance Social Justice, awarded by the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center to authors whose work shines a light on critical social issues. Previous recipients include Ta-Nehisi Coates and Bryan Stevenson.
In April 2018, Desmond’s Eviction Lab at Princeton University published the first-ever dataset of millions of evictions in America, going back to 2000. Desmond launched the Eviction Lab in 2017 after conversations with renters and policymakers convinced him that collecting national data on eviction would help answer fundamental questions about residential instability, forced moves, and poverty in America. Desmond and his team believe that stable, affordable housing can be an effective platform to promote economic mobility, health, and community vitality. They hope their findings will inform programs to prevent eviction and family homelessness, raise awareness of the centrality of housing insecurity in the lives of low-income families, and deepen our understanding of the fundamental drivers of poverty in America.
A former member of the Harvard Society of Fellows, Desmond is also the author of the award-winning book On the Fireline, the coauthor of two books on race, and the editor of a collection of studies on severe deprivation in America. He has written essays on educational inequality, dangerous work, political ideology, race and social theory, and the inner-city housing market. The principal investigator of the Milwaukee Area Renters Study, an original survey of tenants in Milwaukee’s low-income private housing sector, Desmond has been supported by the Ford, Russell Sage, and National Science Foundations. He is a Contributing Writer for The New York Times Magazine, and his writing has appeared in The New York Times and The Chicago Tribune.
Please join us in congratulating our 2016 Winners: Holly Shaw and Melody Stewart!
- The Ghost Map was selected as the Fall 2015 First-Year Book.
- March: Book I was selected as the Fall 2014 First-Year Book.
- Natasha Trethewey’s Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast was selected as Fall 2013 First-Year Book.
- Wes Moore’s The Other Wes Moore; One Name, Two Fates was selected as Fall 2012 First-Year Book.
- Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close was selected as Fall 2011 First-Year Book.
- Warren St. John’s Outcasts United was selected as the inaugural book for the program. (fall 2010)