2017 PEN/JOHN KENNETH GALBRAITH AWARD FOR NONFICTION
Matthew Desmond, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City (Crown/Penguin Random House)
The PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction is a biennial award given to 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 winner receives a $10,000 prize and is honored at the PEN America Literary Awards Ceremony in NYC.
From the Judges’ Citation
Evicted is an example of what nonfiction can achieve when broad, data-driven reporting is rooted in deep, intimate narrative. By telling the stories of eight families on the edge of homelessness, Matthew Desmond explains why property – and eviction – have become so central to American poverty and the ambition for a better life. Rather than simply tug on heartstrings with stories of those losing their homes, Desmond introduces us to landlords, as well, including a former schoolteacher turned inner-city entrepreneur, who, as much as her tenants, is trying to find stability inside an economy seemingly antagonistic to the dispossessed. Evicted weaves a national narrative around personal stories and explains why families are forced into shelters, dirty apartments, threatening neighborhoods and indifferent courts. This book beautifully describes the social costs of poverty, while never becoming desolate, lifeless or maudlin – and, more important, offers hints of a way out.
Julia Angwin is an award-winning senior reporter at ProPublica, a nonprofit investigative newsroom. From 2000 to 2013, she was a reporter at The Wall Street Journal. Her book, Dragnet Nation: A Quest for Privacy, Security and Freedom in a World of Relentless Surveillance, was published by Times Books in 2014. She earned a B.A. in mathematics from the University of Chicago and an MBA from the Graduate School of Business at Columbia University.
Rich Benjamin is the author of Searching for Whitopia: An Improbable Journey to the Heart of White America (Hachette Books), selected as an Editor’s Choice by Booklist and The American Library Association (2009), and now in its second printing. Rich’s cultural criticism appears regularly in public debate, including in The New York Times, The Guardian, NPR, PBS, and CNN. A venture of deep, years-long research, Rich’s current book-in-progress spans a century in topic, and involves his suing The US State Department to get unduly “classified” documents released in entirety. He is also Senior Fellow at Demos. (Photo credit Sharon Schuster)
Jeff Biggers is the American Book Award-winning author of several works of history, memoir, and journalism, including State Out of the Union, selected by Publishers Weekly as a Top Ten Social Science book in 2012, and Reckoning at Eagle Creek, winner of the David Brower Award for Environmental Reporting and the Delta Prize for Literature. His most recent work is Damnatio Memoriae: A Play, Una Commedia.
Charles Duhigg is a Pulitzer prize-winning reporter for the New York Times and the senior editor of live journalism. Mr. Duhigg is also the author of The Power of Habit, which has spent over two years on the New York Times bestseller list, and the recent Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Productivity in Life and Business. Mr. Duhigg is a graduate of Yale University and the Harvard Business School, and a frequent contributor to This American Life, NPR, The Colbert Report, PBS’s NewsHour, and Frontline. He was also, for one terrifying day in 1999, a bike messenger in San Francisco.
Marie Mutsuki Mockett was born to an American father and Japanese mother. Her memoir, Where the Dead Pause, and the Japanese Say Goodbye, examines grief against the backdrop of the 2011 Great East Earthquake in Japan and was a finalist for the 2016 PEN Open Book Award, Indies Choice Best Book for Nonfiction and the Northern California Book Award for Creative Nonfiction. Her first novel, Picking Bones from Ash, was a finalist for the Paterson Prize.
Lizzie Stark’s most recent book is Pandora’s DNA, a reported memoir about inherited breast cancer named an ALA Notable Book of 2015. Her first book, Leaving Mundania, explored the subculture of live action roleplay, a/k/a larp. Her essays and journalism have appeared in The Washington Post, Daily Beast, the Today Show website, io9, Fusion, and elsewhere. She works as a freelance writer, speaker, and consultant in the fields of genomics, education, patient experience, and participation design.
Jessica Valenti is a columnist for the Guardian US and author of five books on feminism, politics and culture. Her latest book, Sex Object: A Memoir, was a New York Times bestseller. Valenti is also editor of the ground-breaking anthology Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape and the founder of Feministing.com, which Columbia Journalism Review called “head and shoulders above almost any writing on women’s issues in mainstream media.” She has a Master’s degree in Women’s and Gender Studies and lives in Brooklyn with her husband and daughter.
Robert Perkinson, Steve Coll, James Carroll, Katherine Boo, and Sheri Fink.
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