Winner of the 2017 J. Anthony Lukas PrizeShortlisted for the 2017 Hurston/Wright Foundation AwardFinalist for the 2017 Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in JournalismLonglisted for the 2017 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Non Fiction
On an average day in America, seven children and teens will be shot dead. In Another Day in the Death of America, award-winning journalist Gary Younge tells the stories of the lives lost during one such day. It could have been any day, but he chose November 23, 2013. Black, white, and Latino, aged nine to nineteen, they fell at sleepovers, on street corners, in stairwells, and on their own doorsteps. From the rural Midwest to the barrios of Texas, the narrative crisscrosses the country over a period of twenty-four hours to reveal the full human stories behind the gun-violence statistics and the brief mentions in local papers of lives lost.
This powerful and moving work puts a human face-a child's face-on the "collateral damage" of gun deaths across the country. This is not a book about gun control, but about what happens in a country where it does not exist. What emerges in these pages is a searing and urgent portrait of youth, family, and firearms in America today.
Guardian journalist Younge (The Speech) chronicles the shooting deaths of 10 children and teens on a random Saturday in 2013 to illustrate the capriciousness of gun violence in America. The circumstances vary: one child is a victim of a domestic dispute; two were shot by friends playing with firearms; one was a known gang leader. While one shooting "tore at the very fabric of tight-knit community," another elicited only an 81-word mention in the newspaper. Younge explores each incident in terms of its location, from the San Jose, Calif., enclave of the Nuestra Familia gang to rural Marlette, Mich., where hunting is popular. He discusses the flawed gun control narratives that require the "elevation and canonization of the worthy victim' " to engage the public's sympathy, and critiques the NRA's lobbying practices as corrupt. He further castigates the entrenched racism and poverty that keep young African-Americans mired in a cycle of violence. Drawing from insights from community organizers and scholarship on violence, economics, and psychology, Younge provides nuance and context to a polarizing issue. The personal touches, however, are most affecting, as Younge pieces together each story from news reports and interviews with friends and family, weaving a tragic narrative of wasted potential. This review has been corrected to reflect the correct agent for the book.