‘Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City’ by Matthew Desmond is a piece of contemporary narrative non-fiction reporting very much in the same vein as one of my favourite non-fiction books of 2016 Another Day in the Death of America by Gary Younge. While Younge explored the circumstances of ten fatal shootings involving children and teenagers in a single day in 2013, Desmond follows eight families in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and their experiences of the private housing rental market in the city and its suburbs. During previous financial crises in the twentieth century, evictions were comparatively rare, but numbers have skyrocketed since the last recession. Desmond explores the reasons behind why this has happened as well as the far-reaching social consequences. Continue reading
Tag Archives: Non fiction
I was half way through reading ‘Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind’ by Yuval Noah Harari on the tube the other week when a fellow commuter asked me what the book is about. Even though I have been writing reviews regularly for over five years, I still don’t enjoy being put on the spot about books I am still reading and mulling over, particularly at 8:15am on a crowded train. My initial response was to say that it’s about, well, pretty much everything. Even though that statement is fairly accurate, the expression on his face suggested that it was also quite unhelpful, so I added that it’s about how and why the human race has developed in the way that it has. This appeared to be a more satisfactory answer, which is just as well because I still can’t think of a better way to summarise its content.
I am very pleased to be taking part in the official Wellcome Book Prize blog tour this week to champion ‘How to Survive a Plague’ by David France which is one of six titles shortlisted for this year’s prize awarded to a book on the subject of healthcare or medicine. It follows France’s 2012 Oscar-nominated documentary film of the same name and is a remarkable account of the activists and scientists who campaigned for awareness and funding towards fighting the AIDS epidemic in the United States.
The Wellcome Book Prize is awarded to a fiction or non-fiction book about health or medicine. Since its launch in 2009, there has been a shortlist of six books but this year, there is a longlist of twelve books for the very first time. The nominated books which were announced today are:
- How to Survive a Plague by David France
- Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari
- When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
- Mend the Living by Maylis de Kerangal (translated from the French by Jessica Moore)
- The Golden Age by Joan London
- Cure by Jo Marchant
- The Tidal Zone by Sarah Moss
- The Gene by Siddhartha Mukherjee
- The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry
- A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived by Adam Rutherford
- Miss Jane by Brad Watson
- I Contain Multitudes by Ed Yong
A new year means new books are coming! Here is a selection of books I will be looking out for which are due to be published in the United Kingdom in 2017:
The early months of the year tend to be when lots of debut novels are plugged heavily by publishers. The Nix by Nathan Hill has been a big success in the United States drawing comparisons with everyone from Jeffrey Eugenides to David Foster Wallace and is out this month in the UK. See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt is another high-profile debut due in May billed as a historical murder mystery while Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders is the long-awaited first novel from the prolific short story writer and is a fictional re-imagining of events following the death of Abraham Lincoln’s son Willie. Continue reading
I have read some excellent books in 2016 both new and not-quite-so-new. Here is a selection of my favourite reads of 2016:
My reading has been dominated by female authors more than ever this year. This isn’t something I deliberately set out to achieve but it is fantastic to see so many brilliant books written by women getting widespread attention. I highly recommend The Tidal Zone by Sarah Moss and The Wonder by Emma Donoghue which could be possible contenders for next year’s Wellcome Book Prize awarded to a fiction or non-fiction book about health or medicine.
I really enjoyed The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry which is one of the most original historical novels I have read in a long time while other recent favourites with a more modern setting include Swing Time by Zadie Smith, the Brexit-themed Autumn by Ali Smith and This Must Be The Place by Maggie O’Farrell. Continue reading
‘Another Day in the Death of America’ by Gary Younge examines the stories of the ten children and teenagers who are known to have died on a single day in the United States as a result of gun violence. Younge picked Saturday 23rd November 2013 at random which happened to be the day after the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination and less than a year after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Connecticut. A tragic portrait of gun culture in contemporary America emerges from the harrowing stories behind each fatal shooting. Continue reading