Lit Louisiana highlights the state’s contemporary literature and brings significant books and authors from the past to the readers of Verite.
Sarah Broom’s “The Yellow House” was her breakout first book on the national scene. However, for New Orleanians, the book represented the story of a part of the city that many of us know but have never seen celebrated in print. “The Yellow House” is a memoir of New Orleans East pre- and post-Hurricane Katrina and also about Broom’s life growing up in a large, loving family.
The youngest of 12 children, Broom is a lyrical, descriptive writer so her sentences give New Orleans East familiarity and warmth. At its center is the home where Broom spent her young years and that her mother, Ivory Mae, continually beautified. She sewed curtains and planted a vegetable garden. She raised Sarah’s brothers and sisters after her first husband died and she bought the house. As a memoir, Broom checked the facts of her remembrances with her siblings and matriarch. It appears that the process of interviews as well as the writing of the book were deeply engaging for the author.
Memoirs, in general, are books that carry a particular theme that an author’s life serves to illustrate. “The Yellow House” follows Broom’s wandering spirit across the United States and the world with a theme of home at its core. It is a place that she cannot forget, which formed her, and has now launched her career. “The Yellow House” won the National Book Award for Nonfiction in 2019 and was a New York Times Bestseller.
A topic that will not go away, and shouldn’t, is covered in Dr. Raynard Sanders’ “The Coup D’Etat of the New Orleans Public Schools: Money, Power, and the Illegal Takeover of a Public School System.” The book is a publication of Sanders’s research on a crucial era after Hurricane Katrina with statistics that don’t flatter the narrative of the remaking of the school system by charter operators. The president of the Learning Policy Institute at Stanford University, Linda Darling-Hammond, praised Sanders’s book as did historian Al Kennedy. Sanders’s Deep Dive into the history and challenges of the schools’ takeover will stand as an unvarnished record of the times.
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