My Internet service has been haywire since last Thursday—the joys of living in the countryside. But it’s on right now and I wanted to write quickly about a book I just finished reading: Ouragan (Hurricane) by Laurent Gaudé. You may have heard of him through his 2007 novel which was translated as The Scortas’ Sun (UK) and The House of Scorta (US). I haven’t read his other work, but will be looking for it directly.
Because Ouragan…Wow. Really wow.
The book is set in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina and told in six different voices – an old woman, a prisoner, a priest, a single mother and her former lover. Each individual has a different relationship to the storm. Each individual must suffer through the storm in a particular way. Handling that many voices in a single, tightly-knit narrative can be difficult, but Gaudé pulls it off with great skill. I literally could not put this book down. The story, the writing, the ideas and history behind the story and the writing.
Wish I had time to write more now about the writing. Gaudé’s writing was intense and emotional. He uses a first person narrator for most of the characters, but third person for two of them. That blend was useful, especially for two sections in which all of sudden the voices begin to merge together, telling each other’s stories. Really very well done.
I find it very interesting that such an incredible work of fiction about an intensely American experience should come from a French writer. I’m assuming Gaudé did a lot of research or was already deeply familiar with the culture and history of New Orleans.
I hope the book is currently contracted with translation into English, but I can’t find any confirmation of that on the web yet.
I will have more to say when my Internet issues get worked out…