University of Wisconsin announced Wednesday an alumnus’ best-selling book, “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City,” will be the 2016-17 Go Big Read, hopefully prompting discussion of poverty across campus in the upcoming school year.
The author of the book, Matthew Desmond, received his doctorate from UW in 2010 and now works as an associate professor of sociology and social studies at Harvard University. Desmond is also a winner of the 2015 MacArthur Genius Award.
The book focuses on the stories of eight Milwaukee families struggling with the loss of their homes, according to a UW statement.
In his book, Desmond addresses the fundamental question of what is American, and whether or not having a good place to live is part of the identity, Shelia Stoeckel, a UW senior academic librarian, said.
Based off of the theme Go Big Read selected last semester, immigration and communities, Stoeckel said Desmond’s book will focus on the community aspect of the chosen theme. While the book focuses on the poverty Desmond surveyed in Milwaukee, it also translates to Madison and other parts of the state.
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“I think this book is very multifaceted,” Stoeckel said. “Matthew talks about poverty and how unstable housing can effect many aspects of people’s lives.”
In addition, Stoeckel said the book bridges nicely with this past school year’s Go Big Read, “Just Mercy.” A lot of the conversations about incarceration correlate with some of the questions of shelter and poverty posed in Desmond’s book.
UW Chancellor Rebecca Blank said in the statement Desmond’s book will enable UW to talk about the “profound implications” poverty has on American families — particularly in communities of color.
“I’m proud that an alum has brought this issue to the forefront and I look forward to conversations in our community about this important subject,” Blank said.
This article was updated to reflect the full meaning of Stoeckel’s quote.