In The Yellow House, Sarah M. Broom recounts her family history and life in New Orleans by shifting the focus from the French Quarter to New Orleans East in general, and her mother’s house in particular. She highlights a part of the city usually omitted from guide books, and struggles to keep its story from being washed away by rising tides of inequality and storm surges of shame. This incredible memoir is a necessary and compelling book. Recommended By Adam P., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
Winner of the 2019 National Book Award for Nonfiction
A New York Times Bestseller
Named a Notable Book of the Year by the New York Times Book Review
Named one of the “10 Best Books of 2019” by the New York Times Book Review, Seattle Times, Chicago Public Library, the Chicago Tribune, and Slate
Named a Best Book of 2019 by the Washington Post, NPR’s Book Concierge, NPR’s Fresh Air, the Guardian, BookPage, New York Public Library, and Shelf Awareness
Named a Best Memoir of the Decade by LitHub
A brilliant, haunting and unforgettable memoir from a stunning new talent about the inexorable pull of home and family, set in a shotgun house in New Orleans East.
In 1961, Sarah M. Broom's mother Ivory Mae bought a shotgun house in the then-promising neighborhood of New Orleans East and built her world inside of it. It was the height of the Space Race and the neighborhood was home to a major NASA plant — the postwar optimism seemed assured. Widowed, Ivory Mae remarried Sarah's father Simon Broom; their combined family would eventually number twelve children. But after Simon died, six months after Sarah's birth, the Yellow House would become Ivory Mae's 13th and most unruly child.
A book of great ambition, Sarah M. Broom's The Yellow House
tells a hundred years of her family and their relationship to home in a neglected area of one of America's most mythologized cities. This is the story of a mother's struggle against a house's entropy, and that of a prodigal daughter who left home only to reckon with the pull that home exerts, even after the Yellow House was wiped off the map after Hurricane Katrina. The Yellow House
expands the map of New Orleans to include the stories of its lesser-known natives, guided deftly by one of its native daughters, to demonstrate how enduring drives of clan, pride, and familial love resist and defy erasure. Located in the gap between the "Big Easy" of tourist guides and the New Orleans in which Broom was raised, The Yellow House
is a brilliant memoir of place, class, race, the seeping rot of inequality, and the internalized shame that often follows. It is a transformative, deeply moving story from an unparalleled new voice of startling clarity, authority, and power.
"I will never write or read about family, longing, blackness, femininity, joy and state-sanctioned terror the same way after sitting with this book. Broom narratively glides through choppy air almost in slow-motion, and when I least expect it, she digs into the ground of New Orleans conjuring the most humanely massive intervention I've read in 21st century memoir writing." Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy
"Broom's memoir of poverty, striving, and justice...concerns rising tides, the literal ones that took her childhood home, and the structural ones, too, that, instead of lifting all, are threatening to drown." Vogue
“Broom’s lyrical style celebrates her family bonds, but a righteous fury runs throughout the narrative at New Orleans’ injustices...A tribute to the multitude of stories one small home can contain, even one bursting with loss.” Kirkus Reviews
"This is a major book that I suspect will come to be considered among the essential memoirs of this vexing decade...It throws the image of an exceptional American city into dark relief." New York Times
About the Author
Sarah M. Broom is a writer whose work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Oxford American, and O, The Oprah Magazine, among others. A native New Orleanian, she received her Masters in Journalism from the University of California, Berkeley in 2004. She was awarded a Whiting Foundation Creative Nonfiction Grant in 2016 and was a finalist for the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Creative Nonfiction in 2011. She has also been awarded fellowships at Djerassi Resident Artists Program and The MacDowell Colony. She lives in New York State.