Books

Grove Press
Grove Press
Grove Press

Secessia

by Kent Wascom

From the immensely talented author of The Blood of Heaven, compared by reviewers to Faulkner, O’Connor, and McCarthy, comes a gothic portrait of a city ravaged by war and struck by vice and disease—Civil War New Orleans.

  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Page Count 352
  • Publication Date July 12, 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-2496-8
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $16.00
  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Publication Date July 07, 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-9133-5
  • US List Price $16.00

About The Book

With the virtuosic, richly historical prose that marked The Blood of Heaven, Wascom carves a gothic tale of insurrection and ill-advised romance, spanning one year in the city at the heart of Secessia, the rebellious just-conquered South.

New Orleans, May 1862. The largest city in the ill-starred confederacy has fallen to Union troops under the soon-to-be-infamous General Benjamin “the Beast” Butler. Twelve-year-old Joseph Woolsack disappears from his home, putting his mother Elise into a panic and his father Angel into a rage. Joseph must come to grips with his father’s legacy of violence, as chronicled in The Blood of Heaven, and his growing affection for his neighbor, the Cuban orphan girl Marina Fandal. Elise must struggle to maintain a hold on her sanity, her son and her station, but is threatened by the resurgence of a troubling figure from her past, Dr. Emile Sabatier, a fanatical physician who adores disease and is deeply mired in the conspiracy and intrigue surrounding the occupation of the city. These characters’ paths all intersect with General Benjamin Butler of Massachusetts, a man who history will call a beast, but whose avarice and brutal acumen are ideally suited to the task of governing an “ungovernable city.”

Secessia weaves a tapestry of ravenous greed and malformed love, of slavery and desperation, set within the baroque melting-pot that was wartime New Orleans.

Tags Literary

Praise

“[A] vivid portrait of 1862 New Orleans . . . Smoke is still rising off Kent Wascom’s spectacular debut, The Blood of Heaven (2013), but this young author is already roaring back with a sequel . . . With his rust-tooth style and flare for brutality, Wascom is one of the most exhilarating historical novelists in the country . . . This is a Gothic tale of revolution broken, rebels crippled, passions smothered but not extinguished . . . Wascom, who was born in New Orleans, has justly been compared to Cormac McCarthy, but the spirit of his new novel is touched by the lurid energy of Anne Rice and Joyce Carol Oates and even Edgar Allen Poe.” —Ron Charles, Washington Post

“Wascom’s second novel takes place in beguiling, fetid, and unruly New Orleans in the year 1862, as the city is overtaken by Union troops. . . . Though most of the characters are as passionate, selfish, and greedy as the city itself, Wascom makes every one of them a pleasure to read, effortlessly inhabiting each of their specific psychologies. . . . This is such a good yarn that readers will be totally on board with the whole rambunctious package.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“The stunning opening scene sets the pace for this fascinating saga. . . . The narrative achieves an exquisite counterbalance of five shifting points of view . . . Wascom has hit his stride with this deftly descriptive historical treasure. The plot illuminates little-known areas of history and culture . . . Highly recommended for historical fiction readers.” —Library Journal (starred review)

“While some writers approach history with patience and respect, Kent Wascom prefers to take it by storm. His vivid characters, male and female, young and old, powerful and passionate, brawling and bleeding, leap from the page with such energy that one does not so much look back at them as make way for them. This is the undead past clawing down the present with a force only a novelist of unfettered imagination and great joy in life could set free among us. Kent Wascom has been likened to Faulkner and McCarthy, and his fire-breathing, idiosyncratic style stands up to that comparison. Secessia should be greeted with trumpets and fanfare. I haven’t read a novel this exciting in a long, long time.” —Valerie Martin, author of The Ghost of the Mary Celeste and Property

“Five characters share what happened when New Orleans fell to Union troops in 1862, bringing the largest city in the Confederacy under the control of brutal general Benjamin ‘The Beast’ Butler.” —Entertainment Weekly (Summer book preview)

“So much historical fiction seems posed—almost as if it must bend to fit the genre—but the writing here feels more like a necessity. Secessia reads like an outpouring of fascination and love for the past . . . solidifies Kent Wascom’s unique place in the literary landscape.” —River City Reading

“One of the hot new names in American fiction is Kent Wascom, a 27-year-old Louisiana native fascinated with the tangled history and dark psyche of the Deep South . . . Beginning with his 2013 debut, The Blood of Heaven, Wascom has used that brutal flair and a lush prose style to begin what will likely be a decades-long project of demythologizing chunks of 19th-century American history . . . Secessia gives Wascom, who was born in New Orleans, a chance to examine some deep-seated Southern obsessions—with race, white privilege, and an addiction to lost causes and bankrupt symbols—that are still playing out today.” —Jesse Chambers, AL.com

“No town is as atmospheric as New Orleans—none except for Kent Wascom’s New Orleans, that is, which is so real you smell the perfume of ladies, the crimes of men, the swamps of culture. Secessia is a history lesson, a bouquet of fine pleasures, writing as rich as the South, a dazzling cavalcade of colorful, deep, and often deeply troubled characters coming together at the moment the city’s grand history stopped and its destiny was set in motion.” —Bill Roorbach, author of The Remedy for Love and Life Among Giants

“Wascom’s second novel takes place in beguiling, fetid, and unruly New Orleans in the year 1862, as the city is overtaken by Union troops. . . . Though most of the characters are as passionate, selfish, and greedy as the city itself, Wascom makes every one of them a pleasure to read, effortlessly inhabiting each of their specific psychologies. . . . This is such a good yarn that readers will be totally on board with the whole rambunctious package.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“The stunning opening scene sets the pace for this fascinating saga. . . . The narrative achieves an exquisite counterbalance of five shifting points of view . . . Wascom has hit his stride with this deftly descriptive historical treasure. The plot illuminates little-known areas of history and culture . . . Highly recommended for historical fiction readers.” —Library Journal (starred review)

“Passions and intrigue run high, while fascinating characters attempt to pick their way through the volatile landscape.” —Neil Rajala, MLive.com (Books for the upcoming holiday season)

Awards

A Houston Chronicle Summer Pick
A Publishers Weekly Book of the Week
A Publishers Weekly Book of the Week