The Viral Underclass: The Human Toll When Inequality and Disease Collide (Hardcover)

The Viral Underclass: The Human Toll When Inequality and Disease Collide By Steven W. Thrasher Cover Image
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Description


"An irresistibly readable and humane exploration of the barbarities of class...readers are gifted that most precious of things in these muddled times: a clear lens through which to see the world."
—Naomi Klein, New York Times bestselling author of This Changes Everything and The Shock Doctrine


From preeminent LGBTQ scholar, social critic, and journalist Steven W. Thrasher comes a powerful and crucial exploration of one of the most pressing issues of our times: how viruses expose the fault lines of society.


Having spent a ground-breaking career studying the racialization, policing, and criminalization of HIV, Dr. Thrasher has come to understand a deeper truth at the heart of our society: that there are vast inequalities in who is able to survive viruses and that the ways in which viruses spread, kill, and take their toll are much more dependent on social structures than they are on biology alone.

Told through the heart-rending stories of friends, activists, and teachers navigating the novel coronavirus, HIV, and other viruses, Dr. Thrasher brings the reader with him as he delves into the viral underclass and lays bare its inner workings. In the tradition of Isabel Wilkerson’s Caste and Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow, The Viral Underclass helps us understand the world more deeply by showing the fraught relationship between privilege and survival.

About the Author


STEVEN W. THRASHER, PHD holds the inaugural Daniel H. Renberg chair at Northwestern University’s Medill School, the first journalism professorship in the world created to focus on LGBTQ research. He is also a faculty member of Northwestern’s Institute of Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing. A columnist for Scientific American, his writing has been widely published by The New York Times, Nation, The Atlantic, Journal of American History, BuzzFeed News, Esquire and New York. In 2019, Out magazine named him one of the 100 most influential and impactful people of the year, and the Ford Foundation awarded him a grant for Creativity and Free Expression. An alumnus of media jobs with Saturday Night Live, the HBO film The Laramie Project and the NPR StoryCorps project, Dr. Thrasher has also been a staff writer for The Village Voice and a columnist for The Guardian. He holds a PhD in American Studies and divides his time between Chicago and New York. The Viral Underclass is his first book.

Praise For…


**One of Publishers Weekly's Top 10 Politics & Current Events books for Fall 2022**
**One of USA Today's 5 Must-Read New Books**

"Steven Thrasher has written the book we urgently need. Putting a compelling and human face on the millions of people affected by the course viruses like HIV and Covid take in the human population, he shows us how race, class, gender, and sexuality combine to help some survive pandemics and even profit from them, while others experience pandemic through their bodies in the form of illness, death, death of loved ones, shame, stigma, and financial insecurity. His analysis of the viral underclass should be required reading for everyone concerned with transforming unequal access to health care in a world where pandemic heightens the brutality of inequality."
—Michael Eric Dyson, New York Times bestselling author of Tears We Cannot Stop and What Truth Sounds Like

"The pandemic brought America’s health inequities into stark relief, but The Viral Underclass illustrates that the problem isn’t new, and that it is embedded more deeply than many of us realize… Thrasher, a gay Black man, brings figures from the viral underclass to life in this engaging, enraging read."
—The Boston Globe

"At once precise and sweeping, rigorous and inviting, The Viral Underclass fearlessly crosses the policed borders of academic disciplines and literary forms, creating an irresistibly readable and humane exploration of the barbarities of class. Through the sheer force of his story telling, Thrasher challenges us to abandon our fatal illusions of separateness in favor of an embrace of our place in a collective entanglement of bodies. Readers are gifted that most precious of things in these muddled times: a clear lens through which to see the world."
—Naomi Klein, New York Times bestselling author of This Changes Everything and The Shock Doctrine

"Throughout this insightful and unflinching book, Thrasher is unafraid to let his anger shine, but he also consistently deploys love and compassion. In a text marked by mistreatment and loss, the author encourages hope...Powerful and revelatory, this is an essential, paradigm-shifting book."
Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"I fully expected to encounter rigorous research and a full accounting of the relevant history in Dr. Steven W. Thrasher's The Viral Underclass: The Human Toll When Inequality and Disease Collide. But what excited me and kept me rapt the entire time was the astonishing level of craft and depth of compassion with which the book was written. More than just sets of facts, Dr. Thrasher illuminates truths, all of which implore us to live by the grandest, most liberating of all principles: love. The Viral Underclass is journalism and journey, science and sermon, astute articulation of grievance and pathway to healing. It is vital reading."
Robert Jones, Jr., New York Times bestselling author of The Prophets

"An important new book...[showing] we are all more vulnerable and intertwined than we realize."
The Washington Post

"The Viral Underclass marks the beginning of a new epoch in cultural work. Steven Thrasher has utilized and finely crafted theory, memoir and reportage to show us what we've been doing the first few years of this century."
—Kiese Laymon, bestselling author of Heavy and winner of an Andrew Carnegie Medal

"A compelling and compassionate analysis of health disparities that delivers both wake-up call and gut-punch."
Booklist, starred review

"It’s hard to imagine that one single book could truly speak to the moment that we’re in. But that’s exactly what Steven Thrasher has achieved in The Viral Underclass...It’s truly a riveting book. I almost had to devour it in one sitting. I just did not want to put it down...One of the most beautiful kind of pieces of craft I’ve encountered in a long time."
—Slate

"In The Viral Underclass, through a combination of broad and deep reporting and narrative storytelling, Steven Thrasher examines the ways HIV/AIDS and other viruses strike people and communities with deliberate intention. His book is essential reading for our current moment—and a signpost for understanding epidemics to come."
Linda Villarosa, author of Under the Skin and contributor to the New York Times bestselling The 1619 Project

"Rigorous scholarship and intimate portraits of life and death on the margins make this a must-read."
Publishers Weekly, starred review

"A page turner. An intimate view of how stigma and class inequality produce suffering at the hands of our two emblematic viruses: Covid and HIV. Thrasher tells a complex story of social stratification and injustice through very well drawn portraits of individuals in his life and in the world. Moving and compelling."
—Sarah Schulman, author of Let the Record Show: A Political History of ACT UP New York, 1987–1993

A "wide-ranging examination of how our society’s ills exacerbate those of our bodies...[with] a sense of poetry."
Jezebel

"The Viral Underclass is wonderful."
—Maris Kreizman

"Thrasher is an excellent investigator. The reader sees how and why the narratives develop in particular ways, and feels fury and despair, as well as occasional glimmers of hope."
Nature

"A remarkable quality of Thrasher’s book is his attentiveness to injustice on a large scale as well as in its most intimate forms... [making] the case for urgent change, envisioning a society that doesn’t force people to expose themselves to sickness in order to survive."
—The New Republic

Product Details
ISBN: 9781250796639
ISBN-10: 1250796636
Publisher: Celadon Books
Publication Date: August 2nd, 2022
Pages: 352
Language: English