How to write about gentrification in a setting

Jendella Benson’s debut novel, “Hope and Glory,” takes place in the London neighborhood of Peckham, (in)famous for its gentrification. As she approaches this setting with the same eye for world-building as writers of fantasy of science fiction, Benson learns something new about her own community.

In her contribution to Literary Hub, Jendella Benson dismisses the word “gentrification” as “cliché.” She writes, “It is a flat term that speaks of boxy rooms in new build apartments and nameless hipsters and craft beer.” Instead, her debut novel, Hope and Glory, seeks to characterize the gentrified (Benson herself can’t afford to live in the setting for her own book anymore), whilst acknowledging the systemic and institutional phenomenon of “gentrification” at the same time.

Although I haven’t experienced gentrification as a white American who grew up in the Middle Class neighborhoods of South Metro Denver, I’ve witnessed it firsthand. People can’t afford to live in their own communities, turned out onto the streets after one delinquent rent payment too many, where drugs are their only solace and crime is their only access to our society’s capitalistic resources for survival. I may not be the right one who can speak to it, but I call upon all the Jendella Bensons of the world to do it for themselves.

Author: Jack Trades, Master of Arts

Jack of all trades, MA, in multimedia content creation and marketing. I'm developing my blog site, Suspension of Disbelief, into a collection of daily short-form news posts about the industry and craft of writing to draw in literary artists with my words, then commune with them through flash essays essays where I explore my Warholian theory of aestheticizing our broken world through creative nonfiction. Please check out the links to my social channels for deep readings into each genre (fiction, nonfiction, drama, and poetry), while I showcase the critical skillset I cultivated from studying journalism and film theory at Colorado State University Fort Collins, in addition to professional creative nonfiction at the University of Denver.

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