Sarah Smarsh is a journalist who has covered socioeconomic class, politics and public
policy for The New York Times, National Geographic, Harper’s, and many other
publications. Her first book, Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the
Richest Country on Earth (2018), was a New York Times bestseller, a finalist for the National Book Award and the Kirkus Prize, winner of the Chicago Tribune Literary Prize and a
“best books of the year” selection by President Barack Obama. Smarsh has served as a
Shorenstein Fellow at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and a Pritzker Fellow at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics. A former writing professor, Smarsh holds an MFA in nonfiction writing from Columbia University and degrees in journalism and English from the University of Kansas. Her latest book, She Come By It Natural: Dolly Parton and the Women Who Lived Her Songs (2020), was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.
Sarah Smarsh is writing a book about North America’s most endangered ecosystem, the tallgrass prairie. The book examines the ways in which industry, policy and culture have nearly destroyed that vital landscape—as well as the little-known movement to save it from extinction.
Mavis Chan is a senior majoring in journalism and
political science at the University of Missouri.