From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Trethewey opens her powerful meditation with "You can get there from here, though there's no going home," a line taken from her Pulitzer Prize-winning 2007 book, Native Guard. When she wrote that line she was "thinking figuratively" about the passage of time; now "the poem had become quite literal." Trethewey combines poetry, prose, and correspondence to paint a poignant picture of the effects of Katrina on her family and on the black community in which she grew up. She writes of her 92-year-old grandmother who didn't eat for weeks after she was evacuated from her home. Disoriented, she moved to Atlanta to live with the author before entering the nursing home where she would soon die. Trethewey also relates the sad story of her brother, Joe. When some homes he owned were destroyed in the flood, he took what odd jobs he could get on the coast before eventually transporting cocaine for an acquaintance. He was caught and sentenced to 15 years in prison. By looking at the vast devastation with sober and poetic eyes, Trethewey has written a hauntingly beautiful book. (Sept.) (c)
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"Within this book's quiet thoughts lies a powerful story of things long gone that will never come back. What is lost can only be captured by memory. And Trethewey's prose captures memory with poetic precision." —W. Ralph Eubanks, All Things Considered
"By looking at the vast devastation with sober and poetic eyes, Trethewey has written a hauntingly beautiful book." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Heartfelt, righteous, humane, “Beyond Katrina” richly deserves to become one of the indispensible Katrina books." —Mobile Press-Register
"Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast is more about the storm’s sociological and psychological results for the Coast and its people, North Gulfport in particular, than its physical damage. But it’s seldom about generalizations...This is a powerful, sometimes painful, book that gets underneath comfortable memories — wherever the reader lives."
—Biloxi and South Mississippi Sun Herald
“With Bellocq’s Ophelia and Native Guard, Natasha Trethewey demonstrated an uncanny and urgent empathy for overlooked but crucial persons and events in the American past. Beyond Katrina extends that nuanced vision and compassion into multiple dimensions of the past, present, and future of this immeasurable national tragedy. It is a great interpretive pleasure and a significant emotional experience to follow her as she sifts the personal, historical, political, and geographic modes of experience to reveal what hurricane Katrina has meant—and can and must mean—for the Gulf Coast and the nation as a whole.”—Anthony Walton, author of Mississippi: An American Journey
"Beyond Katrina examines both the public and personal impact of the tragedy from the perspective of a writer uniquely qualified to undertake such a fraught and challenging project. She brings to the volume an insider’s knowledge and deep-felt affection for the place and its culture, but also an expatriate’s sense of wary detachment. On a grander scale, the book is permeated with the sense that memory and the past can only exist as ruin. This book offers continuing evidence that Natasha Trethewey is one of our most indispensable poets, and tell us as well that she is a prose writer of the first order."—David Wojahn, author of Interrogation Palace: New and Selected Poems 1982–2004
“With a powerful sense of place and of her own biracial identity, [Trethewey’s] poetry refracts the stories, real and imagined, of solitary individuals of the American South that are also part of the composite story of the nation — a story that the United States and the South seem ready to hear. . . .Stories close the distances between us; stories become the means by which we at last see each other in the light of recognition. If this in fact is so, then the unfettered stories told by poets are the hope of democracy everywhere. Sacrifice, endurance, duty, work, loss, courage, hope — these shimmer in Trethewey’s poetic imagination of remembrance and therein is their power to connect us.” —Jamil Zainaldin, SaportAReport