Adaptations: Nomadland by Jessica Bruder


Jessica Bruder’s nonfiction book of the same name serves as the inspiration for this year’s Oscar Best Picture frontrunner.

Starring Frances McDormand as a nomadic woman named Fern, the film may have conceived Fern as a star role for a Hollywood actress but the roles of Linda May, Charlene Swankie, and Bob Wells are played by their real life counterparts, whose lives are detailed in Bruder’s book. Charming, thoughtful, and a touch poignant, Chloé Zhao’s adaptation of Bruder’s work is one of the most enlightening films of the year.

Purchase your copy here.

Back Cover Copy of Nomadland:

From the beet fields of North Dakota to the National Forest campgrounds of California to Amazon’s CamperForce program in Texas, employers have discovered a new, low-cost labor pool, made up largely of transient older Americans. Finding that social security comes up short, often underwater on mortgages, these invisible casualties of the Great Recession have taken to the road by the tens of thousands in late-model RVs, travel trailers, and vans, forming a growing community of nomads.

On frequently traveled routes between seasonal jobs, Jessica Bruder meets people from all walks of life: a former professor, a McDonald’s vice president, a minister, a college administrator, and a motorcycle cop, among many others—including her irrepressible protagonist, a onetime cocktail waitress, Home Depot clerk, and general contractor named Linda May.

In a secondhand vehicle she christens “Van Halen,” Bruder hits the road to get to know her subjects more intimately. Accompanying Linda May and others from campground toilet cleaning to warehouse product scanning to desert reunions, then moving on to the dangerous work of beet harvesting, Bruder tells a compelling, eye-opening tale of the dark underbelly of the American economy—one that foreshadows the precarious future that may await many more of us. At the same time, she celebrates the exceptional resilience and creativity of these quintessential Americans who have given up ordinary rootedness to survive. Like Linda May, who dreams of finding land on which to build her own sustainable “Earthship” home, they have not given up hope.

About Jessica Bruder:

Jessica Bruder is an award-winning journalist whose work focuses on subcultures and the dark corners of the economy. She has written for Harper’s Magazine, the New York Times, and the Washington Post. Bruder teaches at the Columbia School of Journalism.

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