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Floating World

In this dazzling debut about family, home, and grief, C. Morgan Babst takes readers into the heart of Hurricane Katrina and the life of a great city.

As the storm is fast approaching the Louisiana coast, Cora Boisdoré 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, are forced to 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.

Set in New Orleans, this important and powerful novel follows the Boisdoré family . . . in the months after Katrina. A profound, moving and authentically detailed picture of the storm’s emotional impact on those who lived through it.


C. Morgan Babst's portrait of a troubled New Orleans family that fractures further during and after Hurricane Katrina is poetic and suspenseful . . . an ambitious novel.


A powerful debut novel... impressively unrestrained, even Faulknerian... Anyone who has experienced loss will be hard hit by Babst's expert descriptions... that seem infused with the city's soul.

—The New York Times

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.

—The Atlantic

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.


This powerful, important novel . . . is New Orleans to the bone, 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 . . . Deeply felt and beautifully written; a major addition to the literature of Katrina.

—Kirkus ★