Hurricane Lit

Article by keaton

I have an intimate relationship with hurricanes. A Galveston native, one of my earliest memories is sitting on my father’s shoulders as we walked through the waist-deep water in our house following Alicia. Everything gone. Over the years, I came to think of the annual choreography of preparation, anticipation and hysteria that would sweep the island as one of the natural signs of time passing—like tree leaves changing colors.

This is not much different from what takes place on most of the Gulf Coast between the months of June and November. But, growing up on Galveston Island, the specter of a 1900 Storm that killed more than 8,000 people is firmly imprinted on the collective psyche. For locals, the potential of a yearly apocalypse is mindnumbing. You’re always tensed to flee. Yet, there is also the defiant pride of “riding it out” hanging over your head. It’s been part of my entire life, and even I find it a strange way to live.

With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that the drama churned up by hurricanes has supplied numerous authors of both fiction and nonfiction with ample material over the years. So, with the tenth anniversary of Katrina making landfall in New Orleans only a week away, it’s the perfect time to review some of the best works on the subject out there.

Staff Pick Badge
Katrina: After the Flood Cover Image
ISBN: 9781451692228
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Simon & Schuster - August 11th, 2015

An awe-inspiring work of reportage that amounts to a people’s history of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Gary Rivlin splices together the experiences of New Orleanians from all walks of life, culminating in the most comprehensive study yet of this American tragedy. What emerges is a microcosm of our country’s fraught relationship with race and class that is as insightful as it is infuriating. Don’t be surprised if KATRINA wins the National Book Award for nonfiction!

Landfall Cover Image
ISBN: 9780988265776
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Forest Avenue Press - August 11th, 2015

The opening passage of this debut novel describing the catastrophic flooding of the Lower Ninth Ward during Hurricane Katrina is quite simply terrifying. Yet that is only where the story begins. With alternating plotlines and a twist you won’t see coming, Ellen Urbani perfectly captures the desolation and resilience of the people of New Orleans. Urbani reads at Brazos this Wednesday, 8/26 at 7pm!

The Distant Marvels: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781609452520
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Europa Editions - April 7th, 2015

Hurricane Flora was the second deadliest natural disaster of the twentieth century. It tore a swath through the Caribbean and decimated Cuba, where Chantel Acevedo set this mesmerizing novel. A group of women ride out the storm in the Governor's mansion, telling stories to pass the time. However, one woman’s tale will place their country’s troubled path to independence in stark relief, revealing more about them than any would have guessed. Another tremendous work of international fiction from our friends at Europa Editions!

The Promise: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781632206459
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Skyhorse - May 5th, 2015

Local Ann Weisgarber’s second novel is a tale of love and loss set during the “Great Storm” of 1900 that all but wiped Galveston off the map. Two women, at odds over the same man, try to navigate the wakes of personal tragedies, while the looming disaster threatens all. This is pitch-perfect historical fiction and a completely human story that this BOI gives his seal of approval!

America’s weatherman, Al Roker, explores the destruction and aftermath of the 1900 Storm. The unprecedented disaster of the hurricane literally changed the trajectory of American history and—out of necessity and fear—helped the nascent science of meteorology evolve. An accessible blend of history and science that is certain to unearth new information on this infamous storm!

Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History Cover Image
ISBN: 9780375708275
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - July 11th, 2000

This is the book that really launched the career of mega-star popular historian, Erik Larson. It is also the seminal depiction of the 1900 Storm. Larson’s gift for crafting a pulsating narrative out of myriad historical sources is in full force here. He expertly brings to life pre-storm Galveston and treats the approaching hurricane as an intriguing character in its own right. This is a terrifying, illuminating and unforgettable book. An out and out classic!

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