As incoming SMU students prepare to settle into their on-campus homes, they will examine the life experiences of those who can’t afford to stay in theirs. Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, by Matthew Desmond, is the 2017 SMU Reads selection and first reading assignment for the class of 2021.
Community members, alumni, book lovers and book clubs are encouraged to join students in reading the book, and come to campus to hear the author discuss it at a free public forum at 6 p.m. Thursday, August 24 at SMU’s McFarlin Auditorium. For more information visit smu.edu/SMUReads.
Students will read Evicted, the 2017 general nonfiction Pulitzer Prize-winning book, as part of the University’s common reading program, an academic initiative that includes small-group discussions about the book before and after classes begin in the fall.
Author Desmond, an associate professor of social sciences at Harvard University, knows firsthand the trauma of eviction. The bank foreclosed on his family’s Arizona home while he was attending college on scholarship. Since then, he has devoted his research to the intersection of poverty, race and gender in American life.
To write Evicted, Desmond focused on the plight of renters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a city where 29 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. In the book, he examines eight households, both of renters and landlords, to better understand why one in eight Milwaukee renters experience eviction and nationally 2.8 million Americans fear losing their homes.
“Set in Milwaukee, but really a story about American society overall, Evicted examines the great difficulties the poor face in finding and keeping affordable housing today,” says Peter Moore, SMU associate provost for curricular innovation and policy. “The book is as compelling as it is profound, and the life stories of the main characters are sure to hold the readers’ interest.”
In addition to the Pulitzer Prize, the book has received the 2017 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction, the 2017 PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction, the 2016 National Book Critics Circle Award and The New York Times Ten Best Books of 2016. It also was a finalist for the 2016 Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction.
SMU Reads 2017 sponsors include Authors Live, Barnes & Noble, Coaching for Literacy, Dallas Festival of Ideas, Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity, Dallas Mayor’s Task Force on Poverty, Dallas Public Library, Friends of the Dallas Public Library, Friends of the SMU Libraries, Highland Park Library, Reading for a Reason, Serve West Dallas, SMU Cary Maguire Center for Ethics & Public Responsibility, Well Read Women of Dallas, and Year of Unity.
Past SMU common reading books include Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel; Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich; The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman; The Devil’s Highway by Luís Alberto Urrea; Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama; Zeitoun by Dave Eggers; The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot; The Big Short by Michael Lewis; The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore and We Need New Names by SMU graduate NoViolet Bulaweyo.
– Nancy George, SMU News