John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces is often considered the sine qua non of New Orleans literature. Here are six writers who have more recently captured the essence of the city's life.
Dan Baum Frustrated by the media's emphasis on disaster, which overshadowed New Orleans's great culture, history, and people, this former New Yorker staff writer sought a way to represent the human aspect of NOLA. So he chronicled the stories of nine residents in the book Nine Lives, a celebration of the city's inhabitants and a testament to its rich heritage.
Will Coviello He heads the arts and entertainment section at Gambit, an alternative weekly publication based in New Orleans. As a blogger, he covers festivals, concerts, theatrical productions, and other cultural happenings about town.
Dave Eggers His 2009 book Zeitoun follows the real-life Abdulrahman Zeitoun, a Syrian Muslim immigrant--a minority often ignored in the popular conception of the New Orleanian. Zeitoun, who used a canoe after Katrina to aid displaced neighbors, was accused of terrorism and jailed without trial after the hurricane. But while his story paints a disturbing picture of American force police run amok, Zeitoun himself continues to work in New Orleans, willing to simply rebuild, and move on.
Lolis Eric Elie The writer and co-director (above) of Faubourg Treme: The Untold Story of Black New Orleans, a 2008 documentary about one of America's most historic black neighborhoods, currently writes for HBO's acclaimed TV series Treme, alongside the David Simon-led team that made The Wire.
Tom Piazza This longtime resident and accomplished author loves his city. His book Why New Orleans Matters is a treatise on the culture and tradition of a city discounted by most of the world after the 2005 disaster. It asks readers at large to consider the contributions of the city, and warns, "If it dies, something precious and profound will go out of the world forever."
Chris Rose The former Times-Picayune columnist has written extensively on his experiences living in the ruins of New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. His book, 1 Dead in Attic, chronicles not only the city's attempt to achieve a state of normalcy, but his own depression after living against the backdrop of catastrophe.