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Tracy Kidder

7 p.m. Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Page Hall, UAlbany Downtown Campus
135 Western Avenue, Albany NY 12203
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Free parking. Free and open to the public.

Tracy Kidder, "a master of the nonfiction narrative" (Baltimore Sun), presents his new book Rough Sleepers (2023), the story of Dr. Jim O'Connell, a graduate of Harvard Medical School, who invented an unprecedented “community of care” for Boston's unhoused population.

The author of classic works of nonfiction, including Mountains Beyond Mountains (2003), and The Soul of a New Machine (1981), Kidder spent five years following Dr. O’Connell and his colleagues as they navigated the city streets at night, working with thousands of unhoused patients. This magnificent, deeply researched, and inspiring book explores how one doctor has changed countless lives by facing one of American society’s most shameful problems, instead of looking away.

Abraham Verghese said, “I couldn’t put Rough Sleepers down. I am left in awe of the human spirit and inspired to do better.” An NPR "Book of the Year."

Read an excerpt.

Rough Sleepers by Tracy Kidder

About the author:

Following his graduation from Harvard in 1967, Tracy Kidder served as a U.S. First Lieutenant in Vietname. He graduated from the University of Iowa with an MFA in 1974. He has won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the Robert F. Kennedy Award, and many other literary prizes. 

Advance praise for Rough Sleepers:

“What does it mean, in our time of inequality, to care for the vulnerable in ways that strengthen the better angels of our common humanity? Tracy Kidder’s book, and the work of Dr. Jim O’Connell, connect us to unforgettable individuals, who allow us to get closer to the suffering that is only one part of what we need to see."
—Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, author of Random Family

“The nightmare of homelessness can seem both overwhelming and slightly abstract to the safely housed. That abstraction vanishes in the pages of Rough Sleepers. Tracy Kidder has reported the hell out of important stories before, but never more finely and relentlessly. The Sisyphean work of Dr. Jim O’Connell and his team, the embattled humanity of their patients living on the cold streets of Boston—it’s a story full of hard questions, a story with many heroes.”
--William Finnegan, author of Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life

Tracy Kidder  credit Frances Kidder

(Photo credit Frances Kidder) 

“The estimable Tracy Kidder has found another unsung saint—this time not in the back country of Haiti or in genocide-ravaged Burundi, but, literally, on the streets of a major American city. And once again, as with his earlier books, this finely-crafted story sheds light on a larger landscape of injustice.”
—Adam Hochschild, author of American Midnight: The Great War, a Violent Peace, and Democracy’s Forgotten Crisis

“Tracy Kidder has done it yet again. Rough Sleepers will do for homelessness what Mountains Beyond Mountains did for public health. Kidder introduces us to this wondrous cast of characters who have been completely shunted aside. He doesn't let us look away. And we take this journey alongside this astonishingly bighearted, patient, thoughtful man in Jim O'Connell, a doctor to the homeless. I'm in awe of this book. I'm in awe of Jim O'Connell. What a compellingly beautiful, inspiring read.”
—Alex Kotlowitz, bestselling author of There Are No Children Here

Cosponsored by The Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany, The Homeless and Travelers Aid Society, MVP Health Care, City Mission of Schenectady, and Unity House of Troy, Inc.

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