Survival Math

Survival Math

Notes on An All-American Family

Downloadable Audiobook - 2019 | Unabridged
Average Rating:
Rate this:
In a thrillingly alive, candid new work, award-winning author Mitchell S. Jackson takes us inside the drug-ravaged neighborhood and struggling family of his youth, while examining the cultural forces—large and small—that led him and his family to this place.With a poet's gifted ear, a novelist's sense of narrative, and a journalist's unsentimental eye, Mitchell S. Jackson candidly explores his tumultuous youth in the other America. Survival Math takes its name from the calculations Mitchell and his family made to keep safe—to stay alive—in their community, a small black neighborhood in Portland, Oregon blighted by drugs, violence, poverty, and governmental neglect. Survival Math is both a personal reckoning and a vital addition to the national conversation about race. Mitchell explores the Portland of his childhood, tracing the ways in which his family managed their lives in and around drugs, prostitution, gangs, and imprisonment as members of a tiny black population in one of the country's whitest cities. He discusses sex work and serial killers, gangs and guns, near-death experiences, composite fathers, the concept of "hustle," and the destructive power of drugs and addiction on family. In examining the conflicts within his family and community, Jackson presents a microcosm of struggle and survival in contemporary urban America—an exploration of the forces that shaped his life, his city, and the lives of so many black men like him. As Jackson charts his own path from drug dealer to published novelist, he gives us a heartbreaking, fascinating, lovingly rendered view of the injustices and victories, large and small, that defined his youth.
Publisher: New York : Simon & Schuster Audio, 2019
Edition: Unabridged
ISBN: 9781508278962
Call Number: OverDrive Audiobook
Characteristics: 1 sound file : digital
audio file
Additional Contributors: Jackson, Mitchell
OverDrive, Inc


From Library Staff

Honest, heartbreaking and hopeful, this memoir and family history grapples with part of Portland's history that's unknown to many and still painfully present for some.

Honest, heartbreaking and hopeful, this memoir and family history grapples with part of Portland's history that's unknown to many and still painfully present for some.

From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Jun 07, 2019

This book came to my attention through an interview with Mitchell S. Jackson on KBOO . It only gave me an inkling of what would be revealed through listening to the author read this book. This is much more than a memoir. Jackson tells us the story of his life up to the point of the book, his family members and friends, and their impact they made. He goes beyond the telling. Everything is relevant.

Somewhere along the line, something transformative happened, and Jackson turned his life around. This isn't revealed as a particular moment, but in how he adds context into events. He spins the details of a Black man growing up in Portland of another time. He adds historical context to some things, a philosophical spin on others; even biology, literature and music are parts of what he relates to how his life was lived.

Jackson is truly a writer for the 21st century.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at MCL

To Top