Incoming students to read acclaimed nonfiction book about social inequality

May 25, 2017

By Sophronia Knott
ECU News Services

Incoming East Carolina University students will explore America’s poverty crisis and social inequality in this year’s Pirate Read selection.

Matthew Desmond’s nonfiction work “Evicted” was chosen for required reading for new students before classes begin Aug. 21.

The themes of the book relate to societal issues such as the poverty crisis, social inequality, laws, homelessness, and the effects of evictions and economic policies on families, according to Dr. Mary Beth Corbin and Dr. Tracy Morse, co-chairs of the ECU Pirate Read Committee.

The ECU Pirate Read allows first year students to be introduced to the academic community and college-level environment. Students will share a common reading practice with other classmates and faculty, and will be able to discuss ideas from the book across the campus and curriculum.  

The narrative focuses on the poorest neighborhoods of Milwaukee and recounts the stories of eight families, including a single mother, heroin addict and disabled father, all of whom face the possibility of eviction. 

“Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City” has been selected for this year’s Pirate Read.

According to Desmond’s website, the piece is “based on years of embedded fieldwork and painstakingly gathered data, [and] 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.”

“Evicted” was the winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction. It is a New York Times bestseller, and it received the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction. It was also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction and a finalist for the Pen/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction. The New York Times Book Review, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, NPR and Amazon named it one of the Best Books of the Year.

Desmond will visit ECU on Jan. 16.

This is the 10th year of the Pirate Read program. Books from previous years include “The Other Wes Moore,” “It Happened on the Way to War,” “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” and “Just Mercy.”