Gentrifier: A Memoir

Anne Elizabeth Moore. Catapult, $26 (272p) ISBN 978-1-64622-070-0
A “free” house comes with costly strings attached in this wry memoir by journalist and artist Moore (Body Horror). In 2016, Moore, after nearly a decade spent traveling as a freelance journalist, moved into a bungalow purchased and renovated by a Detroit arts institution as part of a program to support low-income writers while helping to revitalize local neighborhoods “at risk of devastation.” As a “white girl in a Bengali Muslim neighborhood in a majority Black city,” Moore wrestles with her complicity in gentrification (though she’s told that the house had been abandoned for eight years before she moved in) and documents her interactions with her neighbors, including a pair of teenage girls with whom she trades local gossip and discusses hijabs, blessing ceremonies, and other aspects of Muslim culture. She also chafes under the arts organization’s “unwritten” rule that she must provide “free, on-call, twenty-four-hour publicity and marketing support” for the program, and, after taking out a loan to replace the crumbling roof, discovers that the house’s ownership history is murkier than she’d been led to believe. Throughout, Moore weaves incisive reflections on Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, sexism and classism in the arts and publishing worlds, urban gardening, and the “media narrative surrounding Detroit.” The result is a trenchant meditation on how communities come together, and the forces that drive them apart. Agent: Sarah Bolling, the Gernert Co. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 08/05/2021
Release date: 10/19/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
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