Babst writes of her native New Orleans with tenderness and a deep knowing. When Del returns home from New York, it's to a city and family uprooted and reeling in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Her sister, Cora, ignoring the mandatory federal evacuation order, had stayed behind as neighbors and friends left their homes. The specifics of what she endured during that time hang heavy in mystery—all her family knows is that it involves a woman with a bullet in her head. Always seen as fragile, Cora's catatonic state now becomes central to everyone's concern, and the family's movements circle around her, with Del's instinct being to cover her sister's tracks, their mother's to bring Cora to a psychiatrist colleague, and their father's to retreat. Babst's characters belong to a Creole family with roots that reach to the foundation of the city itself. Above all else, this book captures the author's sentiment that after the storm, "if you were blind, suddenly you saw."— Caroline Froh
"Set in New Orleans, this important and powerful novel follows the Boisdore 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." --People
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 Boisdore refuses to leave the city. Her parents, Joe Boisdore, 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.
This mystery is at the center of Babst's haunting and profound novel. Cora's sister, Del, returns to New Orleans from the successful life she built in New York City to find her hometown in ruins and her family deeply alienated from one another. As Del attempts to figure out what happened to her sister, she must also reckon with the racial history of the city and the trauma of a disaster that was not, in fact, some random act of God but an avoidable tragedy visited on New Orleans's most vulnerable citizens. Separately and together, each member of the Boisdore clan must find the strength to remake home in a city forever changed.
The Floating World is the Katrina story that needed to be told--one with a piercing, unforgettable loveliness and a vivid, intimate understanding of this particular place and its tangled past.
About the Author
C. Morgan Babst studied writing at NOCCA, Yale, and NYU. Her essays and short fiction have appeared in such journals as the Oxford American, Guernica, the Harvard Review, LitHub, and the New Orleans Review, and her piece "Death Is a Way to Be" was honored as a Notable Essay in Best American Essays 2016. She evacuated New Orleans one day before Hurricane Katrina made landfall. After eleven years in New York, she now lives in New Orleans with her husband and child.