{Exclusive} Matthew Desmond’s Poverty Drama “Evicted” Heats Up Rights Market

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〉 Desmond puts the overlooked stories of American poverty front and center

Matthew Desmond, a sociologist and urban ethnographer, used fieldwork and data to write EVICTED: POVERTY AND PROFIT IN THE AMERICAN CITY. The book explores the issue of extreme poverty and economic exploitation in the country through focusing on one of the poorest neighborhoods in Milwaukee and the struggle to pay for housing.

The New York Times best-selling nonfiction book follows eight families including  Arleen, a single mother trying to raise her two sons with the $20 a month she has left after paying for their rundown apartment. Then there is Scott, a kind nurse with a heroin addiction as well as the legless Lamar who is trying to work his way out of debt. There’s also Vanetta, who resorts to being part of a botched stickup after her work hours are cut. All of them are spending every dime they have on rent, yet they have all fallen behind on payments.

Their housing fate is put into landlords Sherrena Tarver and Tobin Charney. Sherrena is a former school teacher who has now turned into an inner-city entrepreneur while Tobin manages one of the worst trailer parks in the city. They hate some of their tenants and have love for others, but they don’t let their feelings get in the way as Sherrena opts to evict Arleen and her family mere days before Christmas.

The book not only serves as a source of captivating storytelling of the the timely issue of poverty in America, but also provides fresh ideas to the devastating problem that is shown through characters coping with loss and seeing hope when nothing else seems possible.

Desmond is the John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard University and Co-Director of the Justice and Poverty Project. He was awarded the MacArthur “Genius” grant in 2015 for his work on poverty in America and has co-written several socially-minded books including Racial Domination, Racial Progress and The Racial Order. He also wrote the award-winning On the Fireline, which follows the lives of Wildland firefighters.

The book is repped by Jill Kneerim and the film rights are being handled by Ike Williams. Both represent Kneerim & Williams.

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 | Staff Writer
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