A Love Story for a Lost Home

Orient welcomes back a former William Steeple Davis Trust artist-in-residence for a reading from her highly acclaimed debut memoir on Saturday, Sept. 14.

Sarah M. Broom’s “The Yellow House” (Grove Press), released this August, has been heralded by New York Times book critic Dwight Garner as a “major memoir of a large family and its beloved home.”

Ms. Broom will read from “The Yellow House at Poquatuck Hall on Village Lane at 5 p.m., accompanied by a conversation with Greenport poet LB Thompson.

In 1961, Ms. Broom’s mother, Ivory Mae, bought a shotgun house in the then-promising neighborhood of New Orleans East and built her world inside of it. 

It was the height of the Space Race and the neighborhood was home to a major NASA plant—the postwar optimism seemed assured. 

Widowed, Ivory Mae remarried Sarah’s father, Simon Broom. Their combined family would eventually number 12 children. 

But after Simon died six months after Sarah’s birth, the Yellow House would become Ivory Mae’s 13th and most unruly child.

The memoir tells a hundred years of Ms. Broom’s family and their relationship to home in a neglected area of one of America’s most mythologized cities. 

It is the story of a mother’s struggle against a house’s entropy, and that of a prodigal daughter who left home only to reckon with the pull that home exerts, even after the Yellow House was wiped off the map after Hurricane Katrina. 

The Yellow House deftly explores the heart of New Orleans, guided by one of its native daughters, to demonstrate how enduring drives of clan, pride, and familial love resist and defy erasure. 

Angela Flournoy, in The New York Times Book Review, calls the memoir “an essential text, examining the past, present and possible future of the city of New Orleans, and of America writ large.

Ms. Broom’s work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Oxford American, and O, The Oprah Magazine among others. 

A native New Orleanian, she received her Masters in Journalism from the University of California, Berkeley in 2004. 

She was awarded a Whiting Foundation Creative Nonfiction Grant in 2016 and was a finalist for the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Creative Nonfiction in 2011. 

She has also been awarded fellowships at Djerassi Resident Artists Program and The MacDowell Colony. 

A wine and cheese reception and book signing will follow the talk, with books for sale on site thanks to Burton’s Books.

Beth Young

Beth Young has been covering the East End since the 1990s. In her spare time, she runs around the block, tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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