Voices from the Storm

Lola Vollen & Chris Ying, eds., Voices from the Storm: The People of New Orleans on Hurricane Katrina and its Aftermath
Publisher: McSweeney's Books
2006, 229 pages, paperback, $16.00

we've all seen the same clips: people waving for help, people wading for food, people waiting on roofs, on bridges, and in the Superdome. But there is still something incomprehensible about an entire community-all the homes, all the institutions, all the cars and toys and books, and the dead-submerged. The images tell a story too horrific to comprehend. What Voices from the Storm: The People of New Orleans on Hurricane Katrina and its Aftermath does is remind us that behind each of those images is a story and behind each story a set of lives.

Voices of the Storm tells the story of Katrina from the perspective of thirteen New Orleanians, including a priest, a prisoner, a grandmother, and an artist, to name a few. In their voices, and in the syntax of their sentences, natives of the Crescent City will hear their mother tongue. Non-natives will hear something much simpler: poetry. The book is organized chronologically, with narrators weighing in on their lives in sections entitled "Before the Storm," "The Storm," "The Week After," "Weeks After the Storm," and "Looking Back." Each subsection begins with a line drawing of the narrator, giving each voice a face.

McSweeney's has made its mark, both in content and presentation, with the publication of this book. It is a must read for those seeking closure, or a place to put their grief, or even their hope .

-Abby Nance


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