coming October 17, 2017 from Algonquin Books. Pre-order now!
A “powerful, important novel…New Orleans to the bone.”
—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
The Floating World tells the story of the Boisdorés, a Creole family whose roots stretch back nearly to the foundation of New Orleans, as they attempt to reassemble their lives following Hurricane Katrina. Though the storm is fast approaching the Louisiana coast, Cora Boisdoré, the family’s fragile elder daughter, refuses to leave the city. Her parents, Joe Boisdoré, an artist descended from freed slaves who became the city’s preeminent furniture makers, and his white “Uptown” wife, Dr. Tess Eshleman, evacuate without her, setting off a chain of events that leaves their marriage in shambles and Cora catatonic–the victim or perpetrator of some violence mysterious even to herself.
This mystery is at the center of Morgan Babst’s haunting, lyrical debut. Cora’s sister, Del, returns to New Orleans from the life she has tried to build in New York City to find her hometown in ruins, devastated by the storm and its aftermath, and her family deeply alienated from one another. As Del attempts to reach Cora and understand where her sister wanders at night, and what she saw during the hurricane, she must also reckon with the history of the city and the trauma of destruction that was not, in fact, some random act of God but an avoidable tragedy perpetrated on New Orleans’s most helpless and forgotten citizens. The Floating World is the Katrina story that needed to be told–one with a piercing, unforgettable loveliness and a nuanced understanding of this particular place and its tangled past, written by a New Orleans native who herself says that after Katrina, “if you were blind, suddenly you saw.”
Told from the points of view of each family member, this gorgeous debut is bathed in the sights, sounds, and smells of New Orleans, and is a profound Faulknerian family saga about what we choose to salvage in a world that destroys everything we hold most dear, and what we can possibly build out of what remains.
Praise for The Floating World:
“…an authentic, detailed picture of the physical and emotional geography of the city, before, during, and after the tragedy, its social strata, its racial complications, the zillion cultural details that define its character: the parrots in the palm trees, the pork in the green beans, the vein in the shrimp, ‘the goddamned tacky way he flew his Rex flag out of season.’ Deeply felt and beautifully written; a major addition to the literature of Katrina.”
—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“A richly written, soak-in-it kind of book….utterly affecting.”
—Library Journal, starred review
“a riveting novel about the inescapable pull of family.”
“The Floating World is a thought-provoking story of class and race and trauma, told through the dramatic prism of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Babst’s sentences are so fresh and alive they leap off the page. This is a beautiful and captivating book.”
—Jessica Shattuck, New York Times bestselling author of The Women in the Castle
“This book is an achingly precise diagram of a city and family in heartbreak. Babst’s writing is fluid and insidious and hauntingly beautiful. The Boisdorés join some of the great families of American fiction, fascinating kinfolk through whom we watch the rise and fall and rise of New Orleans.”
—Kaitlyn Greenidge, author of We Love You Charlie Freeman
“This is a rich and powerful novel, satisfying on many levels – wry, eloquent, passionate, and completely memorable.”
“In powerfully lyrical prose, Morgan Babst evokes the shattered lives strewn in the wake of the levee collapses that left New Orleans in ruins. It’s a story still difficult to believe—even by those of us who lived through it.”
—John Biguenet, author of The Rising Water Trilogy
“In The Floating World, C. Morgan Babst masterfully, hauntingly, evokes the devastated and devastating landscape of post-Katrina New Orleans with images that are at once surreal and painfully real.”
—Helen Phillips, author of The Beautiful Bureaucrat
“This powerful and lyrical novel captures the emotional currents in New Orleans after Katrina. With an authentic and sensitive voice, Morgan Babst explores family, race, class, and the essence of disruption.”
—Walter Isaacson, bestselling author of Steve Jobs