Aug 16 2009
For someone from Ohio, the extent of the damage done by Hurricane Katrina and the misery of the aftermath is hard to fathom. I still cannot imagine the size of the area affected, the terror of being in the storm itself, the frustration and disgust of surviving in the city immediately after, or the magnitude of loss felt upon returning home from evacuation. I am sure that even the constant news coverage did not do justice to the destruction wreaked upon the city and its residents alike.
Josh Neufeld’s new graphic novel, A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge , renders the atrocity of the storm’s every aspect in a new light that allowed even a Midwesterner to better understand the enormity of the physical and emotional damage.
Neufeld follows seven different characters and their different paths during a twelve day period before, during, and after the storm, and then follows up with them years later. Every character is a real person from New Orleans, their struggles and devastation real. For the most part we follow three story lines (two teams of two and one single resident). The other two people seem less important to the general thrust of the book. Their importance comes at the end when we hear how families and individuals feel about how the catastrophe was dealt with and how they were forced to handle it.
The three stories we follow most closely are powerful. In one, a couple decides to leave their home for refuge in Houston. They are lucky for having left, as their house is in one of the heaviest flooded parts of the city. The other duo is made up of two friends, one of whom owns a convenience store where they hunker down during the storm. Again, the extent of the flooding and damage is unbelievable – entire livelihoods destroyed. The third story line is a woman who, after being nearly killed by Katrina in her home, is subjected to numerous frights and indignities at the crowded Convention Center.
Without giving too much more away, A.D.: New Orleans proves itself a noteable new addition to the canon of literature on Katrina. Neufeld draws with talent and delivers a quality portrait of the city and its people in crisis.
Other interesting books on Katrina include:
Zeitoun, by Dave Eggers
The Great Deluge, by Douglas Brinkley
City Adrift: New Orleans Before and After Katrina, by Frank Koughan, Sara Shipley Hiles & Jenni Bergal
Spoiled: Refrigerators of New Orleans, by Tom Varisco
Llalan specializes in all things Ohio, but has funny stories from all over the US and Canada, plus a few snort-inducing ones from Thailand. And not only does she read books from around the world, she also samples beers in as many languages as possible. Favorite style: the multi-national American Double IPA.