coming October 17, 2017 from Algonquin Books. Pre-order now!
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.