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The Yellow House: A Memoir (Hardcover)

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“When you come from a mythologized place, as I do, who are you in that story?” 

I knew two narratives of New Orleans before reading this thoughtful memoir: the party life in the French Quarter and the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. In The Yellow House, Sarah Broom writes of what it means to be from New Orleans East, an area ignored in the first narrative and damned in the second. Broom centers her story around the yellow shotgun house where she grew up, a house that was both a home to her large family and ultimately lost in the hurricane. In telling the story of her family and her return to a complicated city, Broom has much to say about the mythology of place--both the richnesses and the distortions-- and how where we’re from affects how we view ourselves and others. 

— From Kelsey's Picks



A brilliant, haunting and unforgettable memoir from a stunning new talent about the inexorable pull of home and family, set in a shotgun house in New Orleans East.

In 1961, Sarah M. Broom's mother Ivory Mae bought a shotgun house in the then-promising neighborhood of New Orleans East and built her world inside of it. It was the height of the Space Race and the neighborhood was home to a major NASA plant--the postwar optimism seemed assured. Widowed, Ivory Mae remarried Sarah's father Simon Broom; their combined family would eventually number twelve children. But after Simon died, six months after Sarah's birth, the Yellow House would become Ivory Mae's thirteenth and most unruly child.

A book of great ambition, Sarah M. Broom's The Yellow House tells a hundred years of her family and their relationship to home in a neglected area of one of America's most mythologized cities. This is the story of a mother's struggle against a house's entropy, and that of a prodigal daughter who left home only to reckon with the pull that home exerts, even after the Yellow House was wiped off the map after Hurricane Katrina. The Yellow House expands the map of New Orleans to include the stories of its lesser known natives, guided deftly by one of its native daughters, to demonstrate how enduring drives of clan, pride, and familial love resist and defy erasure. Located in the gap between the "Big Easy" of tourist guides and the New Orleans in which Broom was raised, The Yellow House is a brilliant memoir of place, class, race, the seeping rot of inequality, and the internalized shame that often follows. It is a transformative, deeply moving story from an unparalleled new voice of startling clarity, authority, and power.

About the Author

Sarah M. Broom is a writer whose work has appeared in the New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Oxford American, and O, The Oprah Magazine among others. A native New Orleanian, she received her Masters in Journalism from the University of California, Berkeley in 2004. She was awarded a Whiting Foundation Creative Nonfiction Grant in 2016 and was a finalist for the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Creative Nonfiction in 2011. She has also been awarded fellowships at Djerassi Resident Artists Program and The MacDowell Colony. She lives in New York state.

Coverage from NPR

Product Details
ISBN: 9780802125088
ISBN-10: 0802125085
Publisher: Grove Press
Publication Date: August 13th, 2019
Pages: 304
Language: English