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Babylon Rolling

3.51  ·  Rating Details ·  317 Ratings  ·  65 Reviews
Ariel May and her husband, Ed, have just moved to New Orleans with their two small children. Their neighbor, Fearius, is a fifteen-year-old just out of juvenile detention. Across the street, an elderly couple, the Browns, are only trying to pass their days in peace, while Philomenia Beauregard de Bruges, a longtime resident and “Uptown lady,” peers through her curtains at ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published August 5th 2008 by Pantheon (first published January 1st 2008)
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(showing 1-30)
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Jan 27, 2009 Bonnie rated it it was amazing
Not since Barbara Kingsolver's Poisonwood Bible can I remember reading a book with five distinct voices. And not only distinct, but diverse. I could not put this book down. I also laughed, cried (bawled), and yelped out loud.

The story is set in New Orleans pre-Katrina. I felt as though I had been treated to a rare visit to the true heart of New Orleans, one a tourist would never be privy to.

Babylon (a Mardi Gras parade) Rolling (when the parade starts moving) is largely a story about racism, cla
Nov 23, 2009 Teresa rated it really liked it
I was pleasantly surprised by this novel, believing that it would be a New Orleans hurricane story (of Ivan, not Katrina) and finding out that it isn't. It is bookended in the front by the threat of Ivan (which turns out to be nothing for the city, though Boyden subtly shows that experiences like this one are one reason many people stay put -- and did stay put for Katrina) and at the end with the reader knowing (but not the characters) that what it coming soon is Katrina. This is probably becomi ...more
Aug 12, 2008 Kristin rated it really liked it
Amanda Boyden has a wonderful and varied voice, powerful in its own right and just as powerful when it's playing chameleon. She does that a lot in this novel, which is about the year leading up to Hurricane Katrina on one street in New Orleans. It's like she's trying to remember the intricacies of The Time Before, everyone's Time Before, good or bad or in between. There is an even mix of loathable and lovable characters, along with a section that's both.

One of the best prologues I've ever read.
Sep 06, 2009 Scotchneat rated it it was ok
There were parts of this book that were good - the characters were thoughtfully played out, but it was as if Boyden was trying to get a rhythm into the plotting that didn't quite work.
Feb 24, 2011 Emily rated it liked it
Having been such a big fan of Boyden's previous work, Pretty Little Dirty, I was somewhat disappointed by this. The story takes place in New Orleans and spans the time period from right before Hurricane Ivan until a few months before Katrina. Boyden introduces several narrators who all live on Orchid Street. Though few are acquainted at the beginning, their lives will intertwine in unexpected ways. Ed & Ariel are a married couple who moved from Minnesota because Ariel was hired to run a hote ...more
Shonna Froebel
Nov 17, 2012 Shonna Froebel rated it really liked it
This is a great vignette of five families who live on Orchid Street in the Uptown area of New Orleans. The novel takes place during a year beginning just before Hurrican Ivan, the year before Katrina.
Ed Flank, Ariel May and their two children, Miles and Ella, have recently moved to New Orleans from Minnesota. Ariel is the new general manager of a hotel in the French Quarter and Ed is a Buddhist stay-at-home dad.
Next door, the Guptas, Indira and Ganesh, with their two children, Elizabeth and Will
Oct 20, 2011 Cmorice rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Nous aimons un lieu qui ne peut être sauvé par des digues. Nous sommes des losers de génie. Mais, bien sûr, ceux d’entre nous qui vivent à Uptown, sur Orchid Street, ne le savent pas encore. Nous n’avons rendez-vous avec Katrina que dans un an.

Placé sous le signe du chaos, le roman d’Amanda Boyden, traduite pour la première fois en français, restitue l’âme et l’atmosphère de la Nouvelle Orléans. À la manière d’un photographe, la romancière fixe son regard sur la rue d’un quartier populaire de l
Dec 13, 2011 Ice rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 01, 2009 Laura rated it did not like it
I am an equaly opportunity reader. I really will read just about anything. I also feel guilty when I want to quit a book. Maybe it will improve. What if it all comes together ina beautiful way in the lat paragraph? With this said, I could no finish this book. I made it two thirds of the way through and had to banish it to the returns bin at the library.

It is a multi-viewpoint book. The best "voice" was offered from the opinion of the women, but even then the characters were shallow and undevelop
Jul 16, 2010 Kate rated it it was amazing
Babylon Rolling is an amazing novel. It is a great portrait of New Orleans but that is not the only reason to buy the book.

Race relations, class differences and marital relationships are also essential elements of this book. The author delves into each of these and allows you to see the same events through the eyes of different people. She is able to give the point of view of a wide variety of people: an African American drug dealer, an environmentalist whose wife is considering an affair and a
Oct 10, 2010 Rachel rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book, although not as much as her other novel Pretty Little Dirty. Some of the characters and situations are dead on but others seem a little like stereotypes or caricatures. One of the characters is a young black guy and she attempts to write his portion of the narrative the way that black folks in N.O. speak. Honestly it was cringe-worthy.

However, she did a good job of tackling the confusing mix of cultures that made up pre-Katrina New Orleans. Her portrayal of what it is like
May 16, 2010 Sarah rated it liked it
This is really 3.5 stars, I really liked the book because it is an engrossing depiction of a New Orleans neighborhood pre-Katrina. I started it during my most recent service trip there, and that no doubt added to my enjoyment, it seemed very real. I recommend this book for Treme fans--it has a similar style, following five very different characters who (initially)have only their residence on the same street in common. I think Boyden writes very well, evoking the tone and moods of the central cha ...more
Oct 30, 2012 Taddie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: home-library
This read was rather dragging. I had some problems with the language as every character speaks in his own colloquial - for not being mothertongue english speaker this was not as easy. But also I didnt really like any of the characters and this is always hard for me, then I am not as interested in the outcome of the story, but the story developed eventually and in the end it was getting easier to read and I got forward with the book.
I also dont really understand what was that book about - a neigh
Mar 12, 2010 Kendra rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really wanted to like this book, but found myself struggling to finish it. None of the five narratives, each told from a different character's unique perspective and in their own voice, were fully fleshed enough for a great story.

Boyden does an incredible job with the voice of Fearius, a fifteen-year-old ensnared in the dark world of drug trafficking. I found it surprising that his was the story that tugged on my heartstrings the most; I could not identify or enjoy the stories of the three wo
Dec 03, 2015 Joan rated it really liked it
I really liked this book a lot. The author did a excellent job of catching the spirit of New Orleans and some of its people. Others have mentioned the "cringe worthy" attempt by the author to capture the street dialect of one of the main characters but I thought she was very brave to try and she pulled it off 95% of the time. I felt like I got to know and understand most of the of the main characters. Plotting was good too. I was looking for a "real" book that was evocative of New Orleans and th ...more
Sep 09, 2008 Marjanne rated it it was ok
This is a story about New Orleans, told through several, very different, characters. The characters are compelling and the author did a good job of distinguishing them from one another. On the down side, the story is very gritty. There is sex and violence, language, and drugs. It all adds to the story, but it doesn't make it a nice story. I think the biggest thing I got from this story is: don't move to New Orleans, it will corrupt your children and ruin your relationships. For an author who liv ...more
Feb 15, 2009 Alexis rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009
What an incredibly under-rated novel! Amanda Boyden's latest follows five families living on a New Orleans street. She manages to describe the activities and interactions of these people, using significantly different voices for each character. This novel doesn't deal with Hurricane Katrina, but with Hurricane Ivan and the events surrounding that storm. However, Boyden really taps into New Orleans' character and the racial dynamics of the city and families living on one street. I really enjoyed ...more
Kate Robinson
Dec 26, 2014 Kate Robinson rated it it was amazing
I discovered Babylon Rolling (2008) at my local library branch book sale - they were selling unwanted books from the stacks and the novel appeared to be untouched and unread. Am I ever glad I spent the fiddy cents!

This tale of five families of different cultural and racial backgrounds living on the same block in 2004 New Orleans during the approach of a hurricane is superbly told in five unique character voices. I will definitely read Amanda Boyden's first novel, Pretty Little Dirty. Hope to se
Sep 18, 2008 Rachel rated it really liked it
I finished Pretty Little Dirty (Boyden's first book) earlier this month and loved it. It was intense and beautiful, and all kinds of porny.

This is such a different book, but it shares the intensity, honesty, and immediacy of Pretty. Told in the voices of four wildly different, but always intersecting characters who live on the same block in New Orleans, it's a pre-Katrina tale bursting with violence, kindness, heroes, fear, and hope.

I just love how Boyden writes, and I love what she chooses to
Nov 29, 2011 Jasmine rated it really liked it
Beautifully written, compelling from the start. I really enjoyed how she wrote the assemble set of characters, she interwove them in a manner that made sense contextually vs. how most books will devote an entire chapter to one characters voice. I was a little offended in her portrayal of the young black kid's English. Excessive and trite. However, she does capture the complexity of human emotion while painting a gorgeous picture of the city of New Orleans. Very good novel.
Jan 06, 2009 Diane rated it really liked it
Who'd have thought it? Award-winning Canadian author Joseph Boyden's wife can also write. Very well. Her bio reads like something out of a John Irving novel -- former circus performer/contortionist now English Lit prof, etc. This novel takes place in a gritty neighborhood in pre-Katrina New Orleans (where the couple now reside part of the year). While not as strong on "sense of place" and atmosphere as her husband, her characterization is superb. Very good novel.
Aug 04, 2010 Nancy rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, kindle
Set in New Orleans, I was not very fond of the book, but read it for a book club. I found the characters to be very unlikable and straight out of "central casting".

However, I did get the opportunity to meet the author and she said that she challenged herself to present unlikable characters and try to get the reader to like them before the end of the book.

After her talk and some additional information about where she was coming from it did leave me with a better feeling about the book.
Mar 06, 2016 Sally rated it it was ok
Shelves: new-orleans
I read this as part of my preparation for visiting New Orleans. I generally liked it but some of the characters didn't feel real--especially the MILF character. I just couldn't imagine a mother of two toddling around in Jimmy Choos, flirting with rappers, and generally being a prick when most people in her position would just be too busy to even bother. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't imagine her being real. For the most part I liked the other storylines and characters, though.
Oct 09, 2008 Joyce rated it really liked it
This is a new author for me and an excellent one. The novel is about four families, one white from Minnesota, one white and "old New Orleans", one black and elderly and the final family is black with teen age children. The novel is set in a one block section of New Orleans during the time of Ivan, the year before Katrina hit. It is a powerful and tragic novel of the interactions of the families within themselves and with each other.
Jul 18, 2009 Katie rated it liked it
A moderately engrossing, character-driven novel about a bunch of very diverse people in a New Orleans neighborhood and their quirky interactions with each other. I like how the book captured how New Orleanians have a very strong and well-known culture in so many ways, yet everybody tends to still be an eccentric oddball as well.
Mar 18, 2010 MaryJean rated it it was amazing
Loved it! I could be biased because one of my favourite books is Pretty Little Dirty by Boyden, but I found the story engrossing and the characters interesting. Amanda Boyden writes her characters so well that I always have to remind myself it's fiction.

There's a crazy twist at the end that I did not see coming at all.. I'm definitely planning to read this again!
Jan 12, 2016 V rated it really liked it
The author's ability to possess the identity of so many characters of different races, religions and cultures is where the strength and poetry of this book lies. It has intrigue, love, sex, murder, revenge, infidelity, and all the saucy things you would expect from a book with New Orleans as its setting. Well done.
Sep 20, 2008 Smarais rated it really liked it
Told from the perspective of the diverse residents of a neighborhood in New Orleans, this book takes place during Hurricane Ivan. An interesting read while all the prep took place for the more recent Ike! I thought this was a great book once I got over the writing for the character "Fearius". You'll see what I mean if you read it, mo' fo'.
Dec 27, 2009 Nina rated it it was amazing
This was a great book on the culture of New Orleans. Many areas of the city have people from multiple economic back grounds living together on the same street. It also shines a little on living in a city prone to hurricanes and the mentality of the locals. As a miss-places New Orleanian I enjoy the familiar references to my beloved city and way of life.
Jul 15, 2011 Pam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lots of diversity. I didn't think I was going to like this book, but decided to give it a try because of the jacket description. It was not about Katrina, as I thought it would be. I liked the characters and that many of them got to speak from their perspectives. I got it, if you want to borrow it. :)
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Amanda Boyden grew up, the eldest of three daughters, in Chicago and St. Louis. Currently she teaches in the English department of the University of New Orleans. Previous positions include elderly companion, artist’s model, gutter cleaner, dishwasher, science lab assistant, cancan dancer, tutor, stuntwoman, and bit part actress. Until recently, Amanda worked as a contortionist and professional tra ...more
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