Quarantine Reads: Louisiana-Set Books
As your Zoom meetings and FaceTime and wine sessions indicate, communities are adapting how to go about interaction. What do you talk about when we’ve collectively hit pause? This is a great time to catch up on reading, or finally join a book club. This week, I’ve compiled a list of five of the best books set in our home state so you can do just that.
- “The Awakening,” Kate Chopin. Set in 1890s New Orleans, Chopin’s “The Awakening” was one of the first novels to take on women’s issues from the perspective of a woman. Protagonist Edna Pontellier’s ideals on femininity and motherhood clash with those around her. The novel ruminates on solitude and gender roles in a story that culminates in tragedy.
- “1 Dead in Attic,” Chris Rose. Modern classic “1 Dead in Attic” is “Times Picayune” columnist Chris Rose’s collection of stories following post-Katrina life in New Orleans four months after the hurricane. The stories provide insight into delight and despair, life and death. “1 Dead in Attic” takes a look at New Orleans adjusting to life from one of the strongest writers in Louisiana.
- “A Lesson Before Dying,” Ernest Gaines. The University of Louisiana at Lafayette has an Ernest J. Gaines center, so the most famous novel from eponymous author must be included! For those of us who didn’t read this at UL, “A Lesson Before Dying” is a compassionate story about a young man who returns to Cajun country in the 1940s to visit a black adolescent on death row for a crime he didn’t commit. The novel gives a unique perspective on African Americans in the South after World War II and before the Civil Rights Movement.
- “The Southern Vampire Mystery Series” (aka the “True Blood” novels), Charlaine Harris. Your best bet for starting a Zoom book club, the novels based on HBO’s “True Blood” series set modern-day vampires into modern-day Louisiana. In the fictional town of Bon Temps, Sookie Stackhouse falls for vampire Bill Compton, one of many vampires who announced their presence to the world two years prior. The series is as strange and engaging as the wildly popular HBO show.
- “A Confederacy of Dunces,” John Kennedy Toole: “A Confederacy of Dunces” is a Louisiana classic that may or may not feature a character based on a UL professor. The comedy follows Ignatius J. Riley, who lives at home with his mother in New Orleans, as he goes on one adventure after another meeting a variety of characters along the way.