Ellen Urbani’s Landfall is being released to booksellers right this very moment! After a year of daily work on the editing, design, distribution, and marketing of this stunning mother-daughter novel set during Hurricane Katrina, we’re finally counting down to the Aug. 11 availability date.
Its release is timed for the tenth anniversary of the storm’s landfall. Publishers Weekly featured Landfall in its Katrina section last week, amid a group of nonfiction titles, which was very exciting.
We have phenomenal blurbs, an enthusiastic sales team courtesy of our new distributor (Legato Publishers Group, a division of The Perseus Books Group), and pre-sales galore. Landfall will be in a ton of wonderful indie bookstores all across the country; the novel takes place in the South (Tuscaloosa and New Orleans mostly) but it’s not regional. And in addition to those booksellers agreeing to stock our book, this will be our first Forest Ave title to appear widely in Barnes & Noble and Books-a-Million stores.
Ellen Urbani will be appearing at twenty-plus cities around the country (see her impressive events calendar here), with a focus on the South and the Mid-Atlantic, so if she’s coming your way, please go hear her, and tell her we know each other from this blog. Likely, she will hug you and shower you with gratitude and warmth. Most of you have been here since the beginning–my Seven Questions interview series–which morphed into the idea of publishing a collection of interviews, and three years later, we have this national, spectacular launch. I’m holding on to my hat as we approach this date when “forthcoming” will be replaced by “available now,” still pushing hard to get the word out, and enjoying everything that comes our way. Like this recent Kirkus review:
“Tracing the experiences of two smart, tough young women, Rose and Rosy, she lays down threads that knot their histories together. Each young woman is fatherless, each living with a difficult mother who clings to a romantic past while trying to prepare her daughter for the challenges of a female adulthood. Thrown into the maelstrom of Katrina and its aftermath, each sees her life change completely overnight, forcing her to face herself and the past that shaped her. 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.”
And here are some of Ellen’s jaw-dropping blurbs:
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
If you’re part of a book club, consider taking part in our 50 in ’15 Challenge! We’re looking for 50 clubs–at least one in each state!–to pick Landfall as a selection by the end of 2015. No need to read the book this year; just put it on the club list, and in return, you’ll be eligible for a series of perks, including author participation in your event, personalized autographs for all book club members, and an unpublished, never-revealed prologue. Feel free to grab this handy image I designed and share it on social media!
I’ve been quiet here, because I’ve been busy with the press, but you all are my roots. The online community that centered me, grounded me, fed me, gave me the heart and the courage to push forward with this crazy idea of starting a small press–and now look. Something big is about to hit, something national, something bigger than anything my press has done before, and bigger than anything I could have done on my own. I’m so grateful to all of you, all of our readers, our reviewers, our staff and contractors (especially publicist Mary Bisbee-Beek and graphic designer Gigi Little), and Ellen as well as all of our previous and future authors. You’re all at the heart of this.
Publishing can be disheartening, but dreams can come true. I want to prove that with this launch. I want Landfall to be what some are already calling a Cinderella story: a little-known author and an independent press coming together to create something extraordinary.