wolfwillow, January 1, 2010 (view all comments by wolfwillow)
This is a story that is achingly sad but still triumphant. Piazza gives us the story of Katrina from the perspective of a black family in the Ninth Ward and that of a young upwardly mobile white family. The storm narrows their choices as they experience the devastation of lives and families, all of whom love New Orleans for its iconic culture of music, food, diversity, and community. The pace of Piazza's writing follows the relentless pace of Katrina as she overpowers the outdated protections for the city and shows the world the vulnerability of America's poor. This book is a powerful political statement, as well as a testimony to the tenacity of the human spirit.
Deborah Fochler, February 8, 2009 (view all comments by Deborah Fochler)
I couldnt put this book down. Maybe it is because New Orleans was/is my home. I havent lived there in over 20 years - but it is home. My family is there - my heart remains there. Not something easy to explain unless you are from the city. This book is terrifying in that it could happen again - and anywhere not just New Orleans. The characters tug at your heart strings - you feel their pain. You want them to be okay. This books draws you in - makes you a part of the disaster - transports you to New Orleans and the other places. Not a book you can read in a hurry.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No (5 of 8 readers found this comment helpful)
by Booklist (Starred Review),
"Piazza tells a towering tale of self, family, and place, a story as old and heartbreaking as humankind itself."
by Library Journal,
"This emotional novel reads like a memoir, teeming with fear, anger, pathos, hope, determination, and love. It is absolutely essential reading for every American who watched and prayed through those terrible days. Highly recommended."
by Publishers Weekly,
"Craig's and SJ's approaches to evacuation couldn't differ more, and while their competing narratives occasionally illustrate the city's race and class divide a little too schematically, the point that thousands were left to rot is brought home with kinetic intensity."
by Kirkus Reviews,
"The struggles of the two families depicted are not always well balanced, but Piazza's writing is so fresh and vital readers will feel, all over again, the outrage at the abandonment of this beloved city."
by Jennifer Szalai, The New York Times Book Review,
"Although Piazza's intentions are clearly sincere and good, to slather a novel in sentiment only replaces one set of abstractions with another."
by Richard Russo,
"To read City of Refuge is to realize that this is what fiction is for: to take us to places the cameras can't go. The novel's characters — and what happens to them — are unforgettable, and so is the portrait of New Orleans, the city Tom Piazza clearly loves with all his large, generous heart."
by Richard Ford,
"City of Refuge is an old-fashioned, realistic novel of New Orleans, with all the sensuousness, all the flash-point tumult, the easy-yet-hard-won virtue of the city, as well all the forthrightness, the deftness and affirming intensity of the form. People ask me when will Katrina begin to inform our art, when will imagination become essential to tell what the raw facts can't. Well, here's an answer: now. City of Refuge speaks eloquently into that silence."
by Mary Gaitskill,
"City of Refuge is a tremendously moving book. While reading it you will have to fight the urge to skip ahead to see what happened, and to whom. This is true even though we all know on a general level 'what happened' during Hurricane Katrina; Piazza takes what we know to a deeper, more human level. There are books that give back to art and there are books that give back to life — this book is among the latter."
by Jess Walter,
"Tom Piazza's City of Refuge is a great read — sweeping and intimate, elegiac and angry, serving as lyrical witness to the destruction and recovery of a great city."
by Douglas Brinkley,
"Whatever Tom Piazza writes is touched with magic. As a former longtime New Orleans resident, I was astounded at how brilliantly Piazza captured (in vivid detail) the nuances of his City of Refuge. Although this is ostensibly a Katrina novel, Piazza transcends genre or pigeonholing in what is one of the most deeply humanistic portraits of people coping with cataclysm since The Grapes of Wrath."
From the award-winning novelist and author of Why New Orleans Matters comes a breathtaking novel of two families, one white and one black, whose lives are torn apart by Hurricane Katrina, and then pieced back together again in ways they couldn't have imagined.
by Harper Collins,
In City of Refuge, a heart-wrenching novel from Tom Piazza, the author of the award-winning Why New Orleans Matters, two New Orleans families—one black and one white—confront Hurricane Katrina, a storm that will change the course of their lives. Reaching across America—from the neighborhoods of New Orleans to Texas, Chicago, and elsewhere—City of Refuge explores this turning point in American culture, one whose reverberations are only beginning to be understood.
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