Five books to read after watching the trailer for ‘Detroit’

Kathryn Bigelow’s trailer for her (sure to be Oscar-nominated) Detroit hit the Internet today and already has me eager for August 4 to get here. The Oscar winner teamed up again with journalist-turned-screenwriter Mark Boal (The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty).

The period piece is about the unwarranted police raid of an after-hours bar in a motel during the summer of 1967. The event, where black men ended up dead at the hands of police, kicked off the 1967 Detroit Riot. Bigelow and Boal have been working on this for a while now, but barely anything was known about the project. For months we knew John Boyega, Will Poulter, Hannah Murray, and Anthony Mackie would star in the film. Yet their roles remained nearly a mystery. Finally, with the release of the trailer, we learned the name of the film would simply be Detroit and who would play which role.

If you’re like me and completely hyped for this film, here are five books (fiction and non-fiction) to tie you over until the film’s release this summer.

The Turner House – Angela Flournoy

This 2015 National Book Award finalist is about a large family during the 2008 housing crisis in Detroit. It tangentially references the city’s riots, but they play a role in why certain characters act the way they act. Flournoy’s story is a terrific insight into modern Detroit with beautiful prose that will transport you to the city.

Detroit: an American Autopsy – Charlie LeDuff

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and suburbanite of Detroit LeDuff looked at the Motor City’s struggles with its economy and crime, as well as its social and political issues. It weaves in history, analysis, and interviews into what makes the city so dynamic.

Them – Joyce Carol Oates

Oates won the 1969 National Book Award for them (the preferred stylization of the novel’s title), and the book still holds up. It comments on the American working class struggles through the stories of three major characters whose luck has run out. Or maybe they never had any at all. It takes place from the 1930s and features the riots near the end of the book.

Detroit City is the Place to Be – Mark Binelli

Through a series of essays, Binelli unveils a portrait of a city’s struggles and triumphs through the years, but, more importantly, focuses heavily on what’s happening in the 21st century.  You’ll find a lot of the same information here that you will in other books about the city, but it’s his bite size article length approach that allows you to consume a lot in a short amount of time.

 The Virgin Suicides – Jeffrey Eugenides

Okay, bear with me. This doesn’t really have to do with Detroit or the riots. At all, actually. But it’s set in the suburb of Grosse Pointe and is one of the best novels I’ve ever read. If you’ve seen the Kirsten Dunst movie and think you don’t need to read this novel, you’re wrong. The language Eugenides presents this tragic tale in is more memorable than the story. Which is really saying something.

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