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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Tom Piazza's Novel, The City of Refuge, Relishes in the Spirit of Rebirth

City of Refuge: A Novel

Tom Piazza

Harper: August 19, 2008


Three years ago, so many lives in Deep Dixie were affected by Katrina. Many nonfiction books of essay, memoir, photo-essay, history and commentary have been published about this life-changing hurricane. Refuge, I believe, is the first piece of serious fiction to come out about this time. Ambitious and successful, I celebrate this novel’s publication by choosing it for our September, 08 First Edition Club Selection.


Refuge deals with two families (one 9th ward and one uptown) as we see windows into their lives and their souls. We live with these folks, as if they are real, which is a magical quality of very good fiction. Their story is told in this familiar plot as if they are breathing and somehow Tom maintains his vision of truth in fiction. Refuge is writing without too much sentimentality, neurosis and without contriteness that plagues many factual situational novels. His characters live and speak and you feel alive as a reader in knowing them. Their joys, their problems and plainly just their human ways of living and surviving.


I’m excited to be involved with promoting this novel, Tom’s my pal and I thought this book might be too much for him, I was so wrong. He excels.


Refuge is fresh, real and a serious page-turner. Oddly enough, I’m reminded of my first reading of John Grisham’s The Firm, many years ago. Good people make mistakes and you identify with their shortcomings. Troubled folks can learn how to enhance their lives and all the time, you the reader, are part of the feelings of pain, joy and truth. To the last page, Tom is successful and special with the ending, no sentimental sap here. Just the guts of survival.


In reading Refuge, I feel the heart of New Orleans vibrate with humanity and the livable party spirit which those of us who visit value and enjoy.


Anyone touched by the pain of association with this great storm, should enjoy the wisdom of this novel. And be motivated to get off your ass and go to New Orleans and party, and may haps find Chief Bo and his band of Indians chanting joy over the drums and rhythm relishing in the spirit of rebirth.