TO READ · 04/28/2015
A Literary Guide to New Orleans
We’ve assembled a little roster of books—criteria: strong relationship to Louisiana, entertaining—to familiarize ourselves (and you too) with our new home down South. Behold: five books that ooze New Orleans.
John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces
Over a decade after Toole’s death, fellow Louisiana writer Walker Percy (more on him in a second) championed the book’s publication and it went on to win a Pulitzer. We’ve expressed our affection for Toole’s New Orleans-centered novel before but it bears repeating: this is an extremely funny book.
Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer
A classic book about indecision in the French Quarter and beyond
Truman Capote‘s Other Voices, Other Rooms
After his mother dies, 13-year-old Joel Knox is sent away from his home in New Orleans (where the author spent a good amount of time) to live with a father he doesn’t know. It’s a pretty lonesome setup, but Capote—who published this at 23!—gives Joel an ensemble cast of outlandish-bordering on-implausible characters to round out his new home.
Dave Eggers‘s Zeitoun
Please don’t Google this non-fiction book before reading, we mean it. (After though, go nuts. The story gets weird—very sad too. Certainly stranger than fiction.) After Abdulrahman Zeitoun decides to stick around New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, his efforts to help his neighbors after the storm catch the attention of the National Guard in a not-so-good way.
Michael Lewis’s Liar’s Poker
NOLA native Lewis has made a nice name for himself as a financial journalist, having proven to many right brains that money markets and financial matters are fascinating. Here’s where to start with the Lewis canon.
The Collected Plays of Tennessee Williams
If there’s another author more synonymous with New Orleans, then we’ve left ‘em off this list. The legacy remains so strong that New Orleans hosts the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival every year around the author’s birthday.
Illustration: Gianna Meola