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In 2016, a Detroit arts organization grants writer and artist Anne Elizabeth Moore a free house—a room of her own, à la Virginia Woolf—in Detroit’s majority-Bangladeshi “Banglatown.” Accompanied by her cats, Moore moves to the bungalow in her new city where she gardens, befriends the neighborhood youth, and grows to intimately understand civic collapse and community solidarity. When the troubled history of her prize house comes to light, Moore finds her life destabilized by the aftershocks of the housing crisis and governmental corruption.
This is also a memoir of art, gender, work, and survival. Moore writes into the gaps of Woolf’s declaration that “a woman must have money and a room of one’s own if she is to write”; what if this woman were queer and living with chronic illness, as Moore is, or a South Asian immigrant, like Moore’s neighbors? And what if her primary coping mechanism was jokes?
Part investigation, part comedy of a vexing city, and part love letter to girlhood, Gentrifier examines capitalism, property ownership, and whiteness, asking if we can ever really win when violence and profit are inextricably linked with victory.
"Gentrifier is an indictment of institutionalized racism, xenophobia, and greed—in both public and private spheres. But the heart of the book lies with Moore's personal story, told with warmth and self-deprecating wit, breezy and deep in turn."—Abeer Hoque, author of Olive Witch
"Funny, tender, rigorous, and alive, Anne Elizabeth Moore’s Gentrifier is the best book I’ve read on this freighted subject, and so much more. Along the way, you learn a lot about the wonders and complexities of one particular neighborhood in Detroit, but in turn your own community—what you’ve overlooked, and all you want to make better. A tour de force by a writer who is smart enough to let activism and absurdity sit side by side, and let them go. I’m in awe.”—Paul Lisicky, author of Later: My Life at the Edge of the World