The Long Year: A 2020 Reader
Project Description

"The Long Year: A 2020 Reader" began as a series in Public Books titled "Crisis Cities" and was a finalist for a National Magazine Award. Caitlin Zaloom and Tom Sugrue, editors of the series, added many additional essays from across publications to assemble "The Long Year," which will be published as a book in November 2021 by Columbia University Press.The book notices that some years—1789, 1929, 1989—change the world suddenly. Or do they? In 2020, a pandemic converged with an economic collapse, inequalities exploded, and institutions weakened. Yet these crises sprung not from new risks but known dangers. The world—like many patients—met 2020 with a host of preexisting conditions, which together tilted the odds toward disaster. Perhaps 2020 wasn’t the year the world changed; perhaps it was simply the moment the world finally understood its deadly diagnosis. In The Long Year, some of the world’s most incisive thinkers excavate 2020’s buried crises, revealing how they must be confronted in order to achieve a more equal future. Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor calls for the defunding of police and the refunding of communities; Keisha Blain demonstrates why the battle against racism must be global; and Adam Tooze reveals that COVID-19 hit hardest where inequality was already greatest and welfare states weakest. Yarimar Bonilla, Xiaowei Wang, Simon Balto, Marcia Chatelain, Gautam Bhan, Ananya Roy, and others offer insights from the factory farms of China to the elite resorts of France, the meatpacking plants of the Midwest to the overcrowded hospitals of India. The definitive guide to these ongoing catastrophes, The Long Year shows that only by exposing the roots and ramifications of 2020 can another such breakdown be prevented.

Translational Perspective

As editors of the series, Tom Sugrue and Caitlin Zaloom identified scholars from across the humanities and humanistic social sciences to explain how their knowledge illuminated the roots of the double crises of the COVID-19 pandemic and racism. Every writer worked closely with a development editor to translate academic insights into essays that the educated, curious public could read.

Contact Infomation: First name
Contact Information: Last name
Contact Information: Position title
Professor, Social & Cultural Analysis
Contact Information: Institutional affiliation
New York University
Contact Information: Email address
cmz200 [at]

New York, USA