A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge
written by Josh Neufeld
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After Hurricane Katrina struck in late August 2005, Josh Neufeld volunteered with the Red Cross. Stationed in Biloxi, Mississippi, he witnessed firsthand the horrors left in the storm’s wake—the lives lost, the homes destroyed, the people displaced.
Little of that firsthand experience makes its way into A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge. Instead, the book focuses on several residents of New Orleans Neufeld came to meet through various ways, and it details their intense struggles for survival during and after the hurricane. The book begins with what Neufeld calls a “God’s-eye view” of our little blue marble of a planet, zeroing in ever closer on the formation and impact of the storm. This zooming doesn’t stop with the superficial damage to property. Neufeld is wrenchingly able to capture the pain of the individual human through his artwork, and his writing takes us deep into the psyche of the victims. Why did some stay behind? Why didn’t they get out sooner? Why has it taken so long—and why does it continue to take so long—for things to improve for so many people?
The answers, of course, are complicated and never easy. Neufeld began his work as a blog, which later grew into a book called Katrina Came Calling. But it’s in the pages of this graphic novel, where we can see the pain so vividly etched on people’s faces—or the fear, or hope, or desperation, or stubborn perseverance—that the stories come so touchingly to life. The art of the book is layered behind dual tones that make it hard to miss the jaw-dropping events unfolding. Reading A.D., you’ll find yourself reliving the drama, asking yourself again and again, How did this happen? Why? And you’ll find yourself riveted by the individual stories (an afterword fills in more details that have occurred after the finishing of the book, which is nice).
A.D. is as tight and gripping as any fiction graphic work. The fact that it’s all real just drives home even further the lesson of what we learned after Katrina…and what we still need to understand.