Ben Austen - "Correction" - Alex Kotlowitz

Friday, November 3, 2023 - 6:00pm - 7:00pm
Event Presenter/Author: 
Ben Austen

Ben Austen will discuss Correction: Parole, Prison, and the Possibility of Change. He will be joined in conversation by Alex Kotlowitz.

This event will be held in person at The Seminary Co-op.

Presented in partnership with the Program in Creative Writing at the University of Chicago.


About the book: The United States, alone, locks up a quarter of the world’s incarcerated people. And yet apart from clichés—paying a debt to society; you do the crime, you do the time—there is little sense collectively in America what constitutes retribution or atonement. We don’t actually know why we punish.

Ben Austen’s powerful exploration offers a behind-the-scenes look at the process of parole. Told through the portraits of two men imprisoned for murder, and the parole board that holds their freedom in the balance, Austen’s unflinching storytelling forces us to reckon with some of the most profound questions underlying the country’s values around crime and punishment. What must someone who commits a terrible act do to get a second chance? What does incarceration seek to accomplish?

An illuminating work of narrative nonfiction, Correction challenges us to consider for ourselves why and who we punish–and how we might find a way out of an era of mass imprisonment.

About the Author: Ben Austen is a journalist from Chicago. He is the author of High-Risers: Cabrini-Green and the Fate of American Public Housing, which was longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal of Excellence in Nonfiction and named one of the best books of 2018 by Booklist, Mother Jones and the public libraries of Chicago and St. Louis. A former editor at Harper's Magazine, Ben is the co-host of the podcast Some of My Best Friends Are. His feature writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, GQ, Wired and many other publications.

About the Interlocutor: Alex Kotlowitz is the author of four books, including his most recent, An American Summer, which received the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize. His first book, the national bestseller There Are No Children Here, was selected by the New York Public Library as one of the 150 most important books of the twentieth century. The Other Side of the River received The Chicago Tribune’s Heartland Prize for Nonfiction. Alex’s work has regularly appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine and on This American Life. His honors include two Peabodys, an Emmy, a George Polk Award and the Harold Washington Literary Award. He’s also been honored by American Academy of Arts and Letters for his body of work. Alex is a professor at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism. He and his wife, Maria, live in Chicago.

Event Location: 
Seminary Co-op Bookstores
5751 S Woodlawn
Chicago, IL 60637