cover image Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Jessica Bruder. Norton, $26.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-393-24931-6

Journalist Bruder (Burning Book) expands on an article originally published in Harper’s where she examined the phenomenon of aging Americans adjusting to an economic climate in which they can’t afford to retire. Many among them have discarded “stick and brick” traditional homes for “wheel estate” in the form of converted vans and RVs and have formed a nomadic culture of “workampers,” evoking the desperate resourcefulness of those who lived through the Great Depression. Bruder follows her subjects as they harvest sugar beets, work at Amazon fulfillment centers during the holidays, and act as campground hosts. She conducts extensive interviews, attends the workampers’ gatherings, and tests out survival tips, to the point where she makes “houselessness”—a lifestyle born out of necessity and compromise—seem like a new form of freedom, with its own kind of appeal. Of course, she also addresses the often-crushing financial and social circumstances in which these people live, and pointedly touches on the racial considerations that make this nomadic lifestyle a predominantly white trend. Tracing individuals throughout their journeys from coast to coast, Bruder conveys the phenomenon’s human element, making this sociological study intimate, personal, and entertaining, even as the author critiques the economic factors behind the trend. [em]Agent: Joy Harris, Joy Harris Literary Agency. (Sept.) [/em]