The Unnatural History of Cypress Parish.

If there is any novel published this year that everybody should read, it is The Unnatural History of Cypress Parish by Elise Blackwell.

Kansas City Star

Elise Blackwell’s second novel looks back to the flood of 1927 (a real event) in the (fictional) Cypress Parish, childhood home of Louis Proby... From the vantage point of old age, Louis looks back on the choices he made in ‘the strange and wet spring I turned 17 and crossed the marshy border that separates all that is good and bad of boyhood from all that is good and bad of manhood.’

The New York Times

Blackwell weaves human history with natural history and, with an assortment of vibrant characters, tells a compelling story of a river that still resists the best math and science humanity can construct. Highly recommended.

Library Journal, *Starred Review

On the eve of Hurricane Katrina, the now elderly narrator, Louis Proby, remembers the great floods of his small Louisiana town in 1927, recounting an intimate, resonant history of the era.

Publishers Weekly

Elise Blackwell’s novels are sublime. Rendered with precision and humanity, The Unnatural History of Cypress Parish is, like Hunger, about memory, history, and what guilt can do to a person over the course of a life. It is also a tour de force. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Anthony Doerr

The present haunts the past in this beautiful and timely book. Blackwell burns time, love, and loss down into a bed of discrete mnemonic coals. The voice is so true that it reads like the purest, most authentic memoir. This novel is tough, and sad, and lovely.

Brad Watson

Elise Blackwell once again demonstrates her marvelous talent for braiding together public and private history. The result is a beautifully written and absorbing novel.

Margot Livesey

Blackwell’s grasp of the events surrounding the great flood is acute and grounded in a moral logic that reveals how politics can destroy a city.


A historical novel in the best sense of the term, one rooted in a dramatic event made all the more relevant by recent catastrophe.

Dallas Morning News

The Unnatural History of Cypress Parish was a New Orleans Times-Picayune “book of 2007,” the Monroe News-Star “Louisiana Book of the Year,” and a Book Sense pick.

The Unnatural History of Cypress Parish
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