NC Literary Hall of Fame



Prosperity Gospel: Portraits of the Great Recession by Keith Flynn and Charter Weeks

Redhawk Publications
ISBN: 978-1-952485-35-0
Nonfiction: Photography / History
August, 2021
Available from the publisher

"Keith Flynn and Charter Weeks have added to the long tradition in the US of documenting the pitfalls of unbridled capitalism. From Lewis Hine photographing child labor in textile mills, to Walker Evans and James Agee publishing Let Us Now Praise Famous Men during the Great Depression, and to Eugene Richards documenting the decline of communities across the American West—Prosperity Gospel adds to this tradition with photographs and text that remind us that this nation is a land of opportunity for some and a land of hard work, low pay, and decaying communities for many. Both the Great Recession that began in 2008 by the greed of an unregulated banking industry and the more recent global pandemic that has devastated communities across America provide the backdrop for these remarkable portraits and testimonies of the people who do their best to survive when the odds are so stacked against them. Kudos to Flynn and Weeks for this important contribution to American literature."
—Glenn Ruga, Founder and Director, Social Documentary Network

"Americans love road movies, and this is a great one. Everyone here is a main character, including the writer and photographer, who only appear to be absent. What an important endeavor, to go to the heart of things, during the country’s ongoing bad times, and to take seriously the beliefs, aspirations, enthusiasms, and coping strategies of people working without safety nets, on a very slim margin. The people pictured here didn’t have to talk. It’s a testament to Charter and Keith that they found them and elicited stories we need to know, individually and as a nation. The book’s title is double-edged and alludes to the Great Depression: There’s more than one kind of depression going on, and we very much need to look and listen."
—Ann Beattie, author of The New Yorker Stories, named one of NY Times best books of 2010

With photography by Charter Weeks and text by Keith Flynn, the book documents the effect of “The Great Recession of 2008” on the lives of many working Americans and has been compared to Walker Evans and James Agee’s Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, which chronicled the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Flynn and Weeks interviewed and photographed nearly 100 people in homeless camps, dirt racetracks, gold stores, homes, churches and other environments within a 200-mile radius of Asheville, North Carolina.

Despite the government's claim that the recession was over in 2009 (perhaps true for bankers and automobile manufacturers), it was far from over for millions of ordinary American workers and continues unabated today because of the economic collapse from the pandemic.

This is an important historical document raising the issues of social collapse, economic inequality and the disintegration of the economic security that was once the foundation of the American economy.

Keith Flynn is the award-winning author of 6 books of poetry, most recently The Skin of Meaning, and two books of prose. Flynn is also the founder and publisher, for over 25 years, of The Asheville Poetry Review.

Charter Weeks has been a documentary photographer for over 50 years with projects in Asia, Europe, Africa and the US. Weeks’ work has been exhibited in museums and galleries around the US and published in Virginia Quarterly Review, Photographers Forum, South Loop Review, and Guernica Magazine, among others.

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