Released for the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Don Brown’s Drowned City revisits the storm, the tragic aftermath, and the failure of political leadership that ensued in the storm’s wake. The graphic novel’s panels are colored in murky grays, browns, and blues and show a masterful use of perspective, as you can see on the cover. The text is clear and straight forward. Brown doesn’t reveal new information or demand that the reader see the storm one way or another. Rather he writes in a way that invites the reader simply to remember or, for the kids who were too young to remember first-hand, to look at what happened and judge for themselves.
In a instance of serendipity, I read this book the same day I watched Beyonce’s Formation music video for the first time. The people of New Orleans, particularly the poor, black people, have never really truly recovered from the economic and social ramifications of Hurricane Katrina, and the country needs to be reminded periodically of the lasting pain until we fix the problems that allow tragedies like this to disproportionately effect the most vulnerable among us.
It’s also important in an election year to have a book like this to remind us of the impact our political leadership has when the unexpected happens. The panels about President George W Bush and his incompetent appointees juxtaposed with the unimaginable suffering of the people of New Orleans made my skin crawl. It’s so easy to forget but important to remember.
Ninth Ward by Jewel Parker Rhodes