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Racial Matters

Books About Chicago's South Shore Neighborhood Are All the Rage

Over the last 15 months, three other books besides Gouster Girl have come out about  the South Side Chicago neighborhood of South Shore and its longstanding racial and economic difficulties, i


There is a novel about police brutality and gangs by a young black man, Gabriel Bump (Everywhere You Don't Belong). It officially goes on sale next week, but initial readers at Goodreads and other places have given it pretty good reviews.


There's a kind of memoir and economic assessment of South Shore as a community by a man who grew up in South Shore, Carlo Rotella. Published by the University of Chicago Press, it came out last spring, and is an intriguing read about his conversations and meanderings around the neighborhood trying to make sense of the wide economic disparities he observes. 


And then there is the hugely popular bestseller by MichelIe Obama (Becoming), which devotes its opening 60 pages or so to her growing-up years in South Shore.  She laments, at times, the exodus of whites and middle class blacks from the neighborhood, and the doom that has meant..


Each author has a different story to tell, a different time frame, and a different perspective to offer, based on their life experiences and/or research. The volume of literature is testimony to the big impact South Shore has on the people who grow up there. Indeed, there's a Facebook page as well: "I grew up in Chicago (South Shore), which has more than 2,000 members. 


By the way, each of the authors I mentioned here, including myself, now lives somewhere other than South Shore. Bump lives in Buffalo, Rotella and I live in the Boston area, and Michelle Obama is mainly in Washington. 

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