Winner of Peace Corps Worldwide's Maria Thomas Fiction Award
Longlisted for the Crook's Corner Book Prize
A Women's National Book Association Great Group Reads Selection
With her new novel Landfall
, Ellen Urbani enters the world of American fiction with a bang and a flourish. She brings back the terrible Hurricane Katrina that tore some of the heart out of the matchless city of New Orleans, but did not lay a finger on its soul. It is the story of people caught in that storm and the lives both ruined and glorified in its passage. Her descriptions of the flooding of the Ninth Ward are Faulknerian in their powers. It's a hell of a book and worthy of the storm and times it describes.
- Pat Conroy, author of The Prince of Tides
"A gorgeous and raw rendering of a young woman's struggle for redemption, for forgiveness, for salvation, in the aftermath of the devastating catastrophe of Katrina. Landfall
is not about a storm; it is about the resiliency of the human spirit, and our ongoing need to make sense of the world around us, no matter the cost. Urbani has crafted a powerful novel that will resonate in your soul long after you have turned the final page. Outstanding!"
- Garth Stein, author of The Art of Racing in the Rain
Ellen Urbani has written an amazing and original piece of literature. If you love Isabel Allende's House of the Spirits
you will love this book!
- Fannie Flagg, author of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe
"Urbani's storytelling evokes tinges of Toni Morrison, where the stains and impressions of history–personal, familial, institutional–trail just behind the present, forever threatening to float up like a blanket on the wind and smother the hope of loving and being loved but never quite heavy enough to anchor the story in desperation."
- Brian Juenemann, The Register-Guard
Urbani boldly sets her story among some of the most disturbing events of that time, sensitively evoking the desperation of the survivors of the hurricane and its mishandled aftershocks. To her great credit, she never shies away from the realities of poverty, race, and racism, nor does she fail to give people, both white and black, individual characters, unique histories, and often warm hearts.
"If you read Ellen Urbani's Landfall,
set in the time of Hurricane Katrina, you'll get the best jolt of true South this side of Tennessee Williams."
- David Gillaspie, Seattle Post-Intelligencer Landfall
is a poignant, provocative, and utterly compelling story of two fatherless girls forced into adulthood too soon. Ellen Urbani has accomplished the nearly impossible: creating a fictional world so real you'll revel in its beauty and flinch from its pain. I could not put this book down. And the ending is worth every page that precedes it.
- Hope Edelman, author of Motherless Daughters
"A deeply soulful novel set during the chaos of Hurricane Katrina and the long, moody ebb of its aftermath, Landfall
recalls Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God
for the strength of the women in its pages, and their resilience despite immeasurable loss. Urbani knows it's only love that truly overcomes catastrophe, that even as we search for the answer to that most elusive question–Why?–everything in our lives can always change in an instant, sometimes even for the better."
- Tony D'Souza, author of Mule
From the first sentence, I was drawn into the intricately wrought emotional lives of Urbani's nuanced characters and didn't put the book down until I'd found my way to the end. This novel is as delightful and compelling as it is necessary, broadening the cultural conversation around community, love, loss and inequity. It's about making human connections, particularly during times of grief. Landfall,
like the best literature, delivers an expansive, rich sense of humanity.
- Monica Drake, author of The Stud Book
"Reading Ellen Urbani's writing is like reading a painting, or a song. It's that colorful and alive. Urbani sweeps you up into her world and carries you through this gripping story about two young women affected by similar tragedies."
- Kerry Cohen, author of Loose Girl: A Memoir of Promiscuity
"Urbani's lyrical voice tells a story that reminds us to look for hope when we're in the midst of tragedy, for connection when we feel lost. And when we do, life just might surprise us. Powerfully told, this story will stay with you long after you've read the final page."
- Ali McCart, PNBA Event Coordinator
Ellen Urbani's story of Katrina and its aftermath is an important part of America's modern mythology, a chronicle of one of our greatest national trials. But Urbani's characters reach beyond mythology: two rich and complex young women, two troubled and heartbreaking older women, whose separate journeys and literal collision are unique yet timeless. Landfall is a mirror in the floodwaters, showing us our own distorted faces in the murk and mayhem of our recent past.
- Samuel Snoek-Brown, author of Hagridden
"Shortly after we started working together, Laura sent me an early galley of Landfall
. I absolutely loved it and rank it as one of the best books I have read in years."
- Mark Suchomel, President, Client Services, The Perseus Books Group
"This is one of the best mother-daughter books ever, and there are two sets of women she deftly deals with and brings together in an unexpected way. This book could have fallen into maudlin territory but Urbani never lets that happen. I grew to love all the characters and she does an unflinching job of bringing the chaos, terror, and sadness of Katrina to life in a way so primal and so removed from what we saw on the news. She is a seriously good writer."
- Cindy Heidemann, field sales, Legato Publishers Group
"It's been a long time since I've had to tear my eyes off a page simply to catch my breath, but Ellen Urbani's Landfall
is that kind of a saga, a potent mixture of dread and elation, confusion and comprehension."
- Angie Jabine, Oregon Arts Watch
"This is a book to be savored. Although we learn early on of the accident that kills one of the young women and the mother of the other, Urbani's sonorous language and her gifted narrative skills keeps the reader wanting to know more, to understand the circumstances that united these two women, and to learn of the surprising twist at the end of the novel."
- Jim Carmin, The Oregonian
"In this uplifting debut novel, the destinies of two teenage girls–one black, one white–converge as Hurricane Katrina slams into New Orleans' Ninth Ward. Urbani skillfully blends history with a multi-voiced epic of mothers and daughters, strength and resilience, love and redemption."
- Rob, Ingram Advance Buyers Recommendations for August 2015
"Urbani is an extraordinary writer with an exceptional gift for entering the consciousness of both black and white characters in America's South. In Landfall,
she vividly portrays the milieu in which they live, comparing, contrasting and showing how culturally entwined the two races are. She knows her contemporary southern life inside and out, and depicts its people in language imbued with the rich vernacular of place."
- Marnie Mueller, Peace Corps Worldwide