For decades I've been a visitor to the Crescent City, New Orleans, but always as exactly that—a visitor. I'd head for the French Quarter, the elegant Garden District, maybe down to the Mississippi to watch the boats. If I encountered a neighborhood, particularly one like the Ninth Ward depicted in What Went Missing and What Got Found, the object would be to move on through as quickly as possible. Don't get involved.
But when I stepped into this same neighborhood and met Achilles, Loutie, Sister Michael Patrick, Sweet Pea and the other characters created by Fatima Shaik, I quickly became part of the community. These folks became my friends. I cared about them and continue to now that the book is closed and on my shelf.
I first met them during ordinary times, just living their own dramas, and then—disaster!
These lives changed as the storm changed and horrified the city, the nation and the world. What happened? The final stories look at how Katrina immediately changed each life in drastic and different ways.
This book is author Shaik's recognition of the tenth anniversary of this overwhelming natural disaster. As our memories of Katrina's horrors fade into the decades we should not, and for readers of this book cannot, forget the personal losses that are part of its entire story. Once again, stories are the true record of history.
I'm looking forward to my next New Orleans visit. I'll feel right at home, and I'm hoping I'll run into some of my new friends.
New Orleansian, Fatima Shaik resides both in her home city and in New York. Her writing focuses on the Louisiana Creole and African-American experience in both fiction and nonfiction. Her work is featured in several anthologies including Breaking Ice: An Anthology of Contemporary African American Fiction. She is an assistant professor at St. Peter's University. Visit her website.
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