~post by Consuelo
New Orleans is my favorite city, It is like love – beautiful, mysterious, complicated – and you want to keep coming back for more. I try to visit as often as I can, but luckily there is no shortage of books about the Big Easy when that’s not possible. I share with you a few of my favorites:
Coming Through Slaughter by Michael Ondaatje
Jazz. New Orleans. Literature. If you like any combination of the three, this is a great book for you. It is a fictionalized account of the last months of jazz pioneer Buddy Bolden’s sanity. Never have I come across a novel whose language so perfectly mirrors its subject. Reading it is like listening to jazz, and if you do it on particularly hot and sweltering day you can pretend you’re in New Orleans. Perfect.
Zeitoun by Dave Eggers
When Hurricane Katrina hit, Abdulrahman Zeitoun stayed behind while his family fled the city. A week later he went missing. This book alternates between his and his wife Kathy’s perspectives as it reveals what happened to him. It is page-turning and completely outrageous.
1 Dead in Attic: After Katrina by Chris Rose
This is another Katrina book, a collection of columns by Chris Rose that ran in the Times-Picayune the first few months after the hurricane. His writing invites you in, to share his city and its struggles and hopes. His perspective is so well balanced, a blend of humor and heartbreak that leaves you thinking about the stories contained in the book long afterward.
Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
I found this novel such a refreshing addition to the young adult genre. Its 1950’s New Orleans setting alone separates it from all the dystopian and high school drama that crowds those shelves. Josie is the daughter of a brothel prostitute who longs for a way out of the life she feels trapped in. Her big plans to get to college are interrupted after a death in the French Quarter leaves her involved in the investigation. Her relationship with Willie, the strong-willed madam who has pretty much raised her, is so compelling and a unique driving force for the story.
One Drop: My Father’s Hidden Life–A Story of Race and Family Secrets by Bliss Broyard
A riveting memoir of a woman who finds out her father, literary critic Anatole Broyard, had been “passing” his whole life to conceal his racial identity, it also includes a lot of history of New Orleans as she traces her father’s roots. As a city with such a huge melting pot of cultures and also a deep-south history of slavery, its past is complex and ambiguous. Broyard weaves this narrative into her family’s personal story for a fascinating exploration of race in America.
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
The quintessential New Orleans novel. In no other setting could a character as overflowing with hilarity and absurdity as Ignatius J. Reilly feel at home. Wicked comic genius.
*More NoLa books I’m looking forward to reading:
Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink
The Accidental City by Lawrence N. Powell
Madam: A Novel of New Orleans by Cari Lynn and Kellie Martin
Nine Lives by Dan Baum
Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas by Rebecca Solnit and Rebecca Snedeker