Eric Klinenberg presents 2020: One City, Seven People, and the Year Everything Changed, in conversation with Ava Chin

February 15th
McNally Jackson Seaport
RSVP Required — see below

A meticulously reported, character-driven, unforgettable investigation of a time when nothing was certain and everything was at stake, by the acclaimed sociologist and best-selling author Eric Klinenberg.

“A gripping, deeply moving account of a signal year in modern history, told through the stories of seven ordinary people trying to survive at the epicenter of the crisis. Klinenberg’s narrative not only exposes the social fault lines that made 2020 epically traumatic but also shows how the legacy of that year continues to shape us, our politics and our personal lives.” —Siddhartha Mukherjee, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Emperor of All Maladies

2020 will go down alongside 1914, 1929, and 1968 as one of the most consequential years in history. This riveting and affecting book is the first attempt to capture the full human experience of that fateful time.

At the heart of 2020 are seven vivid profiles of ordinary New Yorkers—including an elementary school principal, a bar manager, a subway custodian, and a local political aide—whose experiences illuminate how Americans, and people across the globe, reckoned with 2020. Through these poignant stories, we revisit our own moments of hope and fear, the profound tragedies and losses in our communities, the mutual aid networks that brought us together, and the social movements that hinted at the possibilities of a better world.

Eric Klinenberg vividly captures these stories, casting them against the backdrop of a high-stakes presidential election, a surge of misinformation, rising distrust, and raging protests. We move from the epicenter in New York City to Washington and London, where political leaders made the crisis so much more lethal than it had to be. We bear witness to epidemiological battles in Wuhan and Beijing, along with the initiatives of scientists, citizens, and policy makers in Australia, Japan, and Taiwan, who worked together to save lives.

Klinenberg allows us to see 2020—and, ultimately, ourselves—with unprecedented clarity and empathy. His book not only helps us reckon with what we lived through, but also with the challenges we face before the next crisis arrives.

“In 2020, Eric Klinenberg explores the meaning and impact of the pandemic through the experiences of seven New Yorkers who lived through it. The result is a book that's at once intimate and far-ranging, a work that reveals the importance of social solidarity and also its fragility.” ―Elizabeth Kolbert, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Sixth Extinction

“A sociological investigation of an unforgettable year. Klinenberg profiles a radicalized bar manager, a determined school principal, and a cast of Americans whose stories reveal how 2020 reshaped life in the United States. By asking fresh questions—Why did crime and social division spike in the U.S. but not elsewhere? How did masks get so politicized?—2020 compellingly reveals what the pandemic laid bare about our culture, our institutions, and ourselves.“ —Matthew Desmond, best-selling author of Poverty, by America and Evicted

Eric Klinenberg is the Helen Gould Shepard Professor in the Social Sciences and director of the Institute for Public Knowledge at New York University. He is the author of Palaces for the People, Going Solo, Heat Wave, and Fighting for Air, and, with Aziz Ansari, coauthor of the #1 New York Times bestseller Modern Romance. In addition to his scholarly articles, Klinenberg has contributed to the New York Review of Books, the New Yorker, The Atlantic, and This American Life.




Ava Chin is the author of the award-winning Eating Wildly, and Mott Street, a TIME 100 Must-Read Book and SF Chronicle Favorite Nonfiction Book of 2023. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times (“Urban Forager”), the Washington Post, the Village Voice, SPIN and VIBE, among others. She is a professor of creative nonfiction and journalism at the City University of New York.




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