This award-winning book tells the story of New Orleans through the attempt to resurrect a lost family home
Sarah M Broom was once employed to tell the official story of New Orleans, of the city’s “unlikely recovery” after Hurricane Katrina, which struck on 29 August, 2005. She quit City Hall six months after she arrived and left New Orleans. “By leaving,” she writes, “I reclaimed my voice.” With that voice and with her book, The Yellow House, which won the 2019 US National Book award, she tells a far less romantic tale about this great American city. A far more honest and daring one, too.
Katrina claimed nearly 2,000 lives and ravaged many others, including that of Broom, whose childhood home, 4121 Wilson Avenue, was destroyed. The Yellow House makes plain the devastation, and the many causes, of that loss. Broom’s mother, Ivory Mae, had purchased the home in 1961 with money from her dead husband’s life insurance policy. (He’d been run over just outside a Texas military base. Ivory Mae, then pregnant with their third child, would remarry and give birth to six more children, including Sarah, the last.) When she and her children moved in, Ivory Mae was the first in her immediate family to own a home. 4121 Wilson Avenue represented the American dream made real. As Broom traces the house’s history from 1961 to, and beyond, its destruction, she also traces, or reveals, the emptiness of that dream, an emptiness that many millions across America have also realised in the years since. Continue reading...