“Jason Boog can tell you firsthand about the struggles of writers in the 21st century. During the 2008 recession, he lost his job when the publication he worked for, Judicial Reports, shut down. For freelance writing gigs, he used the New York University library as his office, and when he wasn’t writing, he was reading.

Intrigued by the challenges of his forebears in unemploymentBoog began pitching pieces about writers during the Great Depression. Twelve years later (by which point he was the West Coast correspondent for Publishers Weekly), he collected them into his own book, published last year: “The Deep End: The Literary Scene in the Great Depression and Today.

Reading about the Depression during the Great Recession had given Boog hope amid profound stress and uncertainty. He’d even entertained the idea of federal intervention to help thousands of writers who, like him, had been laid off from steady jobs.

Help didn’t come in 2008, but then came the pandemic — truly a once-in-a-lifetime cataclysm. It felt to him like a possible sea change. But the long wait and the lessons of history have also made him realistic. “The sad and hard lesson that I learned from the Great Depression is that it takes a long time to recover from this,” Boog said, “and it takes a long time to make meaningful changes…

Writers will struggle for years to come, Boog said, “but if we follow the example of the 1930s and stay in the streets and we keep mobilizing, raising our voices, asking for support, and making sure people recognize that writers and creative people are suffering during this time too and need help — once that happens, then maybe we can see some change.”

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