NOMADLAND: Surviving America in the Twenty-First century, Jessica Bruder

The inspiration for Chloé Zhao’s 2020 Golden Lion award-winning film starring Frances McDormand.

From the beet fields of North Dakota to the campgrounds of California to Amazon’s CamperForce program in Texas, employers have discovered a new, low-cost labor pool, made up largely of transient older adults. These invisible casualties of the Great Recession have taken to the road by the tens of thousands in RVs and modified vans, forming a growing community of nomads.

Nomadland tells a revelatory tale of the dark underbelly of the American economy—one which foreshadows the precarious future that may await many more of us. At the same time, it celebrates the exceptional resilience and creativity of these Americans who have given up ordinary rootedness to survive, but have not given up hope.

“People who thought the 2008 financial collapse was over a long time ago need to meet the people Jessica Bruder got to know in this scorching, beautifully written, vivid, disturbing (and occasionally wryly funny) book.” — Rebecca Solnit

Source: GoodReads

Richard comments
Jessica Bruder lived among the nomads of the USA for a couple of years as part of her research. Therefore, her book is full of authenticity and factual information. Her characters for the most part even bear their real names. The book is an exposure or a revelation of a facet of life in USA that is not seen by Americans themselves as they walk by Walmarts, the strip malls, large parking areas near their homes. 

Bruder writes about the nomads with due respect, treats them the way she, or you or I, would want to be treated. She explains the nomads as people have fallen through the economic cracks or American society and not had a financial safety net to catch them. She calls them the houseless, not the homeless for they have homes, cars, SUV’s, RV’s, pickup trucks kitted up to be inhabitable, labelled as ‘nomads’ because they move from location to location, region to region, state to state, sometimes overnight, seeking employment with a livable income. The picture Bruder displays would be labelled as tragic by most of us as we live in warm, dry homes with meals on our nightly supper tables. The nomads have the same goals, same wants, same hopes but fate, economic events have dealt them unforeseen blows and they have lost all their past possessions. They have started new lives and are living it, a notch about just surviving.

The Bruder book is a polished piece of writing for Bruder has attended journalism school and practice her craft before diving into the deep end by publishing a book. The book grabs the attention of the reader, not so much with rivetting writing, but more with the incredibility of what she describes. Only a heart of stone would not empathize with the nomads. But it is the reality of the USA.

A good read.


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