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‘Houseless’ seek hope on the road

Posted April. 03, 2021 08:00,   

Updated April. 03, 2021 08:00


Some people call them “homeless,” but these new nomads decline such a label while simply calling themselves “houseless.” Homeless and houseless. They don’t sound notably different, but new generation nomads who emerged in the U.S. after the Great Recession in 2008 strictly differentiate by using the two that sound similar. They don’t have traditional forms of houses made of concrete wall or wood, but they have homes as space where they sleep at night and eat meals. To these people, homes are vans, recreational vehicles, or pickups.

The writer, who is a journalist, followed nomads who wandered around using their vehicles as their homes for three years to write stories. The writer analyzed how the life of those affected by the global financial crisis has changed and has been devastated.

At the center of the story in the book is Linda May. The 64-year-old woman is one of those people who chose life on the road after suffering from soaring rent and low wages. Riding on her home, a yellow trailer, she wanders across the country in search of a job. They travel along many different roads to find jobs, including a manager position at a camp site in a national forest and a manufacturing job at Amazon’s warehouse that hires nomads during the year-end shopping season. By showcasing people who are living on the road with all different stories, the author reveals the reality in America where individuals should shoulder suffering from a disaster wrought by the collapse of the social system.

The book shed lights on the reality wherein life on the road is not necessarily journey on for the sake of survival. Visiting different places, nomads sometimes encounter happiness that they never expected. They decorate their vans, meet with new nomads, and share pain, suffering and memories. If one has a flat tire, people collect money and help each other, as the book describes in a natural fashion the signature optimism of nomads who discover hope even in a tragic situation.

Jae-Hee Kim jetti@donga.com