Poor People by William T. Vollmann

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That was the simple yet groundbreaking question William T. Vollmann asked in cities and villages around the globe. The result of Vollmann's fearless inquiry is a view of poverty unlike any previously offered.

Poor People struggles to confront poverty in all its hopelessness and brutality, its pride and abject fear, its fierce misery and quiet resignation, allowing the poor to explain the causes and consequences of their impoverishment in their own cultural, social, and religious terms. With intense compassion and a scrupulously unpatronizing eye, Vollmann invites his readers to recognize in our fellow human beings their full dignity, fallibility, pride, and pain, and the power of their hard-fought resilience.

Some images that appeared in the print edition of this book are unavailable in the electronic edition due to rights reasons.


About William T. Vollmann

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William T. Vollmann is the author of eight novels, three collections of stories, a memoir, and Rising Up and Rising Down, which was a finalist for the 2003 National Book Critics Circle Award in nonfiction. His 1996 story collection, The Atlas, won the PEN Center USA/West Award for best fiction and he was the recipient of a 1988 Whiting Writers Award. VollmannÂ's journalism has been published in The New Yorker, Esquire, Harpers, Granta, Grand Street, and Outside Magazine.
Published October 5, 2010 by HarperCollins e-books. 464 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Poor People

Kirkus Reviews

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National Book Award-winning novelist and journalist Vollmann (Europe Central, 2005, etc.) asks street people why they think they're poor. Most have no answer.

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of Poor People

The New York Times

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“Unlike Sunee,” Vollmann observes, “she related her autobiography in narrative form, complete with foreshadowings, narrative complications and a climax.” The story is full of holes, though, and Vollmann acutely labels it “a poor person’s tale: specifically, a tale whose dates fail to add up.” He ...

Mar 18 2007 | Read Full Review of Poor People

The New York Times

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That description winds up having less to do with the relative brevity of “Poor People” (it is of merely average length for nonfiction) than with its relevance to one of the most famous of all essays: James Agee’s and Walker Evans’s paean to the poor, “Let Us Now Praise Famous Men.” To Mr. Vollm...

Feb 22 2007 | Read Full Review of Poor People

Publishers Weekly

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fuels this meditation on the nature of poverty by journalist and National Book Award–winning novelist Vollmann (Europe Central , etc.).

Jan 22 2007 | Read Full Review of Poor People

Book Reporter

Many poor people have a belief system that allows them to accept being poor;

Jan 19 2011 | Read Full Review of Poor People

Entertainment Weekly

B Originally posted Feb 23, 2007 Published in issue #923 Mar 02, 2007 Order article reprints

Feb 23 2007 | Read Full Review of Poor People

Open Letters Monthly

In the series of portraits which make up the fist part of Poor People, Vollmann meets and talks to people he considers to be poor, asking them both, “Do you consider yourself to be poor?” and, “Why are you poor?” He pays them for their time, which he defends as a flawed but useful investigative t...

Jan 06 2010 | Read Full Review of Poor People

Bookmarks Magazine

Poor People, a book of 128 black-and-white photographs and vignettes organized around such themes as "self-definitions," explores why people believe they’re poor.

Aug 07 2007 | Read Full Review of Poor People

Austin Chronicle

Despite some admirable mental jujitsu – he asserts that prostitutes have relative freedom but turns all his poor sources into something akin to whores by paying them for their time and stories – Vollmann stumbles at far too many interludes.

Apr 06 2007 | Read Full Review of Poor People

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