THE FLOATING WORLD

Published October 17, 2017 by Algonquin Books.
Find it on shelves at your local bookstore or order now!

A “powerful, important novel…New Orleans to the bone.”
—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

An Amazon Best Book of the Year and Best Book for October 2017
A BOOKish Best BookClub Pick
An October Pick by Real Simple, Marie Claire, Ploughshares,
InStyleBustle, Bitch, Paste,  and Deep South Magazine
A People Pick, New York Post Required Reading,
Wall Street Journal “Best New Fiction,” one of Bill’s Books,

and Samantha Irby approved

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: 

The Floating World will swallow you whole… It’s a haunting, beautiful, relentless portrait of the devastation the storm inflicted on a city, and a family – dismantling and fracturing everything in its path…At a time when much of our focus is on the devastation of recent hurricanes, Babst’s novel serves as an essential and evocative—not to mention, gorgeously written—portrait of the grief and trauma of those that witnessed and experienced Katrina.”
Al Woodworth, for Amazon’s Best Books of October 2017

“Babst’s debut could not be more timely, and in the end, The Floating World serves as a reminder that a hurricane’s havoc can—and should—deliver a jolt to ideas of how helpless we think we are, and shake up delusions about how safely we can barricade ourselves. What happened in New Orleans in 2005, Babst writes early on, was “an act of man.” Her characters know, on some level, that “It was not an act of God. …. It was not a natural disaster.” But coming to terms with that insight, her novel makes clear, doesn’t make the task of rebuilding any easier.”
Amy Weiss-Meyer, for The Atlantic

“In scripture, the great flood was a purifying event. When, after 40 days and nights, the rain ceased and the waters receded, wickedness had been cleansed from the earth. (It grew back stronger than ever, but never mind.) But real floods, C. Morgan Babst reminds us in “The Floating World”…  don’t wash away human contamination; they bring it to the surface.”
Sam Sacks, for The Wall Street Journal

The Floating World is the most striking New Orleans novel inspired by Hurricane Katrina so far, a story as complex and nonlinear as the map of the Crescent City, interweaving the troubles caused by the storm with the specific difficulties one family already faced before the first raindrop fell.”
Marion Winik, for Newsday

“…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

The Floating World is intelligent and penetrating as it takes on a tragedy that, over a decade past the fact, Americans are still grappling to comprehend.
Michelle Anne Schingler for Foreward Reviews, a five star review

“a riveting novel about the inescapable pull of family.”
Publishers Weekly

“A native of New Orleans who evacuated one day before Hurricane Katrina, Babst has an intimate understanding and knowledge of the region’s people and rich culture, its topography and the complex forces of race and class. The result is in a timely debut novel about the power of nature and its omnipresent potential for destruction in every aspect of our lives.”
Melissa Firman for Shelf Awareness, starred review

The Floating World “is very much of our irritable, harried times. Like Harvey, Katrina was not just a storm but also a reconfiguration of a community. Babst’s novel is an invaluable record of that social devastation—and a warning of the devastations like Harvey to come.”
Kenneth Champeon for BookPage

“This is a spot-on examination of race and the tumult natural disasters leave in their wake.”
Samantha Irby for Marie Claire

“A soulful inquiry of race, class, and family in the dawn of trauma, The Floating World doesn’t just look into the eye of such a devastating storm. The storm itself becomes the lens through which the Boisdorés begin to see the world more clearly. Through it, we see what loyalty truly looks like—the impossible choice to stay or leave, the terrorizing heartbreak of return—and the cost of what we hold onto, what we must release in order to survive.”
Amy Jo Burns for Ploughshares

“What becomes of those harmed by natural disasters after the news cameras leave and attention is diverted to the next human crisis? That’s the question at the center of The Floating World, a book that will surely give its readers empathy for all those who are putting their lives back together.”
—Evette Dionne for bitch

“this wrenching and hypnotic book will give you chills”
—Melissa Ragsdale for Bustle

“Babst offers readers another look into the eye of figurative and literal storms through a novel powerful in its subject matter and rich in emotion.”
Christianna L. Davies, for the Express-News

“In her recent…novel, “The Floating World,” author and New Orleans native C. Morgan Babst weaves an enthralling narrative of love and loss that is a must-read for casual readers and literary experts alike.”
Burke Joslin, for the Tulane Hullabaloo

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.”
—Valerie Martin, author of Property and The Ghost of Mary Celeste

 “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