Friday, August 22, 2008

City of Refuge - Tom Piazza

I finshed a great book recently while Judge and I were sequestered in Highlands, North Carolina. It's called City of Refuge by Tom Piazza.

I wondered what post-Katrina fiction would look like. I was sincerely surprised at how much I enjoyed it, fell into its dialect and found genuine frustration at the circumstances surrounding the characters of Craig, SJ, Lulu, Wesley, Anne, and the city itself - entranced in the way each of them explore a different part of the flooding of New Orleans.

The story follows two families. One, a couple from Uptown, white and residents of NOLA for 8 or so years, the other, a black family -SJ, Lulu and Wesley- who live in the Ninth Ward and teeter on the edge of the storm. Even early on, I found myself eating lunch at 417 Union on my lunch break, silently choked up while reading passages from each family's evacuation. Piazza writes with tenderness - quietly assuming a buffer between him and his subjects, but he narrates their travails with humanity and I loved it.

Anyone interested in Southern literature would enjoy this novel. It represents what is good about fiction in the South: a good story and a tornado.

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