Tales of Two Americas: Stories of Inequality in a Divided Nation

Edited by John Freeman. Penguin, $17 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-0-14-313103-8
Freeman (Tales of Two Cities) brings together 36 authors to examine inequality in America through stories of personal experiences. Notable contributors include fiction powerhouses Ann Patchett, Edwidge Danticat, and Anthony Doerr, as well as nonfiction authors such as Eula Biss and Rebecca Solnit. The authors are a range of races and ages, the stories span America from coastal cities to smaller towns in the Midwest and South, and profile subjects include homeless people, veterans, immigrants, and the working poor. Freeman includes short stories, reportage, memoirs, essays, poems, and an excerpt from a forthcoming graphic novel. Each entry focuses on the oppressed and the downtrodden—readers will find only one side of the “two Americas” here. As a whole, the book is engagingly earnest and succeeds at highlighting the personal side of much-reported news stories on subjects such as disappearing jobs, police brutality, gentrification, and immigration policy. The book appears timed to respond with empathy to the anxieties revealed by the 2016 presidential election. The prose throughout is top quality, and readers drawn by the famous writers involved will also enjoy discovering authors previously unknown to them. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 05/29/2017
Release date: 09/05/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
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