College of Arts and Sciences

Fall 2019 Case Writer: Mitchell S. Jackson

Award-winning and critically acclaimed author Mitchell S. Jackson is a native of Portland, Oregon. Jackson’s work explores his hometown, including the systemic forces that shaped his community, his family, and his early life. That exploration began with a novel titled The Residue Years—a book that announced Jackson as a bright new voice in literary fiction.

The Residue Years earned high praise from The New York Times, The Paris Review, and The Times of London, among many others. The novel won the Ernest J. Gaines Prize for Literary Excellence and was a finalist for the Center for Fiction’s Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize, the PEN/ Hemingway Award for First Fiction, and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. Jackson also won a Whiting Award, one of the country’s most prestigious literary awards for emerging writers.

Jackson’s newest work is Survival Math: Notes on an All-American Family. In his hybrid nonfiction—part essay, part memoir, part history—Jackson examines the hardships that shaped his life, his family, and his community. The book serves as a cultural critique of the racial history of Oregon, American whiteness, mass incarceration, sex work, violence, and broken families—phenomena of which Jackson is intimately familiar— and ultimately presents a microcosm of the forces blighting the lives of untold disenfranchised Americans. An endlessly fascinating and lovingly rendered portrayal of the victories and injustices that defined Jackson’s youth, Survival Math is at once elegiac and hopeful.

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