The Maximum Security Book Club

Reading Literature in a Men's Prison

“The degree to which literature both can be and can’t be a bridge between sensibilities is so carefully examined in this swiftly and sensitively written book. I’m left thinking we should all strive to build book clubs with people whose days and life histories are quite different from our own, rather than discussing books mainly with our friends. Until then, there’s Mikita Brottman’s wonderfully witty and deeply honest report from just that sort of space.”    ~ Sheila Heti, author of How Should a Person Be?

“Unlike the typical book-about-reading-books, The Maximum Security Book Club steers clear of facile sentimentality. There is no transformation or redemption in Brottman’s story, only honest moments of encounter—between the author and her students, between the students and one another, between each man and himself—made possible by the act of reading literature. Brotman gives us a candid, unillusioned account of her work behind bars. A brave and admirable book about a brave and admirable project.”
~ William Deresiewicz, author of Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite

“One of the best books about teaching I’ve ever read, The Maximum Security Book Club is not only lively and engaging from the first page to the last, but dazzles by virtue of its honesty, sympathy and humanity.” ~ Phillip Lopate, author of To Show and To Tell and Portrait Inside my Head

“Take nine convicted felons confined for the long haul at a maximum security men’s prison. Add a well-meaning literary scholar armed only with cheap reprints of challenging books by writers from Conrad to Kafka. The resulting dynamic is the subject of Mikita Brottman’s fascinating and unvarnished book about criminals as rough-hewn literary critics. I tore through The Maximum Security Book Club, curious to read the answers to the questions Brottman asks herself: Can literature illuminate, and perhaps even change, the lives of those warehoused over the long haul at America’s penal institutions? Can shared reactions to classic books empower those whom society has rendered powerless? What is the value of literature and language, and what are its limitations?” ~ Wally Lamb, author of She’s Come Undone and I Know This Much is True

“The prisoners are real. The fiction classics they read and discuss are real. Honest, engaging, surprising, and often unsettling, The Maximum Security Book Club beautifully captures the banal insanity of prison life in America while exploring the power of literature to transform, reform, and illuminate.” ~Kim Wozencraft, author of Rush and The Devil’s Backbone

Events, Feature Articles, Podcasts, Interviews, TV

Red Emma’s Event: Among Murderers – Mikita Brottman and Sabine Heinlein in Conversation, Baltimore, March 2 2017.
Book Review: Reading Literature Behind Bars, Gerry Peary, Arts Fuse, Boston, December 15 2016.
On Time” with Marcus Washington and Tracy Baskerville, The Maximum Security Book Club / Baltimore Book Festival, September 18 2016
Why Did the Jessup Correctional Institution Cancel My Book Club?, LitHub, August 31, 2016.
Officials Ax Maximum Security Book Club at Jessup, Dan Rodricks, Baltimore Sun, August 27, 2016.
August 29, 2016, Joe Donahue, The Book Show, WAMC, Reading Literature in a Men’s Prison
“Teaching in Jail Leads to Writing a Book.” Interview with Mary Carole McCauley about The Maximum Security Book Club, Baltimore Sun, July 26, 2016.
July 22 2016,  Baltimore Sun Profile by Mary Carole McCauley
July 2016, Audiofile Magazine review of audiobook, read by Beverly Crick.
July 2016, Shelf Discovery, audio review by Kristin Dreyer Kramer.
July 14 2016, Oxford Today, article by Olivia Gordon.
July 11 2016, Smarty Pants Podcast from The American Scholar.
June 24, 2016, 20SomethingReads, Jane Krebs,
June 15, 6.30-8pm, Writers Live at the Enoch Pratt Library, Baltimore.
June 13, Midday with Sheilah Kast, WYPR Baltimore.
June 9, “Roughly Speaking” with Dan RodericksThe Baltimore Sun
May 30, Talk Radio Europe, Selina McKenzie, “The Lifestyle Show”
March 14 2016 Library Love Fest, Episode 3
July 16 2016, Metapsychology Online Reviews
June 20 2016, Boston Globe
June 17 2016, Los Angeles Times
June 17 2016 BassoCantor
June 6 2016: BookPage
June 6 2016: Huffington Post
April 6, 2016: Kirkus Review
March 7, 2016: Publishers Weekly
December 14, 2015: Library Journal Reviews