There is a $5.00 charge to participate in our book groups, fully redeemable for merchandise in the store.
We hosted Alex Kotlowitz in a converation with bookseller Jon Grand in April. Now that the book has been out a while and you've had time to read, it, join Jon for a discussion of Kotlowitz's new and important work, An American Summer: Love and Death in Chicago
The numbers are staggering: over the past twenty years in Chicago, 14,033 people have been killed and another roughly 60,000 wounded by gunfire. What does that do to the spirit of individuals and community? Drawing on his decades of experience, Alex Kotlowitz set out to chronicle one summer in the city, writing about individuals who have emerged from the violence and whose stories capture the capacity--and the breaking point--of the human heart and soul. The result is a spellbinding collection of deeply intimate profiles that upend what we think we know about gun violence in America. Among others, we meet a man who as a teenager killed a rival gang member and twenty years later is still trying to come to terms with what he's done; a devoted school social worker struggling with her favorite student, who refuses to give evidence in the shooting death of his best friend; the witness to a wrongful police shooting who can't shake what he has seen; and an aging former gang leader who builds a place of refuge for himself and his friends.
Applying the close-up, empathic reporting that made There Are No Children Here a modern classic, Kotlowitz offers a piercingly honest portrait of a city in turmoil. These sketches of those left standing will get into your bones. This one summer will stay with you.
"Unforgettable . . . Like Kotlowitz's now classic 'There Are No Children Here, ' An American Summer probes the human damage that stems from exposure to violence . . . a powerful indictment of a city and a nation that have failed to protect their most vulnerable residents, or to register their pain." --Eric Klinenberg, The New York Times Book Review
"Alex Kotlowitz has written daringly . . . readers who join his harrowing journey surely will emerge with deeper and kinder understandings, and perhaps feel morally implicated by their understanding of the grim realities his summer tour shows us. Kotlowitz is a brilliant reporter who covers one of America's most heartbreaking beats. . . Kotlowitz's accounts of love, friendship, parenting, rivalry, humiliation and the pressure to maintain respect are fascinatingly real." --Minneapolis Star Tribune
"A reporting mosaic . . . a painful chronicle about an extremely violent city based on the narratives of those who managed to survive its streets. With this book, Kotlowitz amplifies the words of those who have witnessed [violence] and makes their experience available to readers. The experience is tremendously necessary." --NPR.org
" An American Summer is so compelling it's almost impossible to put down." --The Daily Beast
"A masterpiece of real-life storytelling. With each unforgettable story, Kotlowitz draws us into the lives of people living and working in some of Chicago's most abandoned communities. The stories of suffering and revenge unsettle and enrage; those of grace and forgiveness warm and inspire. Together, they dispel with cheap explanations, offering deeper sense to acts thought senseless and revealing people's depth and humanity lost in the headlines." --Matthew Desmond, Pulitzer Prize winning author of Evicted
"In his latest powerful sociological exploration, [Kotlowitz] masterfully captures the summer of 2013 in neglected Chicago neighborhoods, rendering intimate profiles of residents and the "very public" violence they face every day. . . A fiercely uncompromising--and unforgettable--portrait." --Kirkus, starred review
"[A] heartfelt and, at times, surprisingly hopeful portrait of a city battling intractable ills. By giving each and every person he talks to the time and respect to tell his or her story, Kotlowitz evokes fully dimensional human beings rather than the statistics or caricatures most of us are used to in reports on "bad" neighborhoods." --Chicago Reader
2020 J. ANTHONY LUKAS PRIZE WINNER
From the bestselling author of There Are No Children Here, a richly textured, heartrending portrait of love and death in Chicago's most turbulent neighborhoods.