Last year, psychoanalyst and literary scholar Mikita Brottman wrote The Maximum Security Book Club, a riveting account of the two years she spent reading literature with criminals in a maximum security men's prison outside Baltimore.
This intimate look at life inside a prison—and inside the lives of the prisoners—is powerful, poignant and unforgettable. I personally loved this book (you can hear my thoughts in Under the Radar, Over the Moon Episode 3). Critics loved this book, too.
“This memoir’s energy emanates from Brottman’s sharp understanding of group dynamics and her determination to avoid clichés. She delves into the personal stories of the men she met behind bars, and is clear-eyed both about literature’s powers and its limitations.” —Los Angeles Times, "4 new nonfiction books not to be missed"
“Readers see more than how criminals respond to literary masterpieces. They also see how the author realigns her own college professor thinking about books she sees anew through the eyes of her tough-minded students. Great literature reassessed in a gritty world far removed from academe’s ivory towers.” —Booklist
“Take nine convicted felons confined for the long haul at a maximum security men’s prison. Add a well-meaning literary scholar armed only with cheap reprints of challenging books by writers from Conrad to Kafka. The resulting dynamic is the subject of Mikita Brottman’s fascinating and unvarnished book about criminals as rough-hewn literary critics. I tore through The Maximum Security Book Club…” —Wally Lamb, New York Times bestselling author of We Are Water
Why, then, did the Jessup Correctional Institute cancel Mikita Brottman’s Book Club? It remains a mystery, but this OpEd by the author is so worth the read…