20 greatest works of fiction about New Orleans

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Universal Orlando Resort is poised to kick off the biggest, best, Mardi Gras party in the country Ð straight from New Orleans to you this February 12 through April 23. Image via Universal

This year, New Orleans turns 300 years old. Celebrate by diving into some of the greatest fictional works to feature the Big Easy.

This year, the city of New Orleans, Louisiana turns 300 years old. No one is entirely sure of the date, though it was sometime during the spring of 1718 that the French Mississippi Company claimed land south of Lake Pontchartrain in the Mississippi River delta.

At that time, the land was inhabited by the Chitimacha people, though it was soon occupied by French settlers. They named their settlement New Orleans after Philippe II, the Regent of France and Duke of Orleans.

As time moved forward, the city passed from French control to Spanish in 1763. By the time 1803 had wrapped up, Napoleon had sold the territory of New France, including New Orleans, to the United States in the Louisiana Purchase. It’s remained under American control ever since.

However, just because a place passes from government to government via signed treaties doesn’t simply change its culture. French and Creole culture has persisted in New Orleans well into the present day. Over the course of history, other people began to settle there, including people of African descent, Caribbean settlers, Spanish people, and Americans.

The fact that New Orleans was also a bustling trade port — full of respectable folk working alongside pirates and smugglers — contributed greatly to this diversity. Even today, the social and racial divides and coming-togethers in the city make for dramatic and meaningful real-life occurrences.

Modern New Orleans

So, where does this leave New Orleans today? It’s often called one of the “most interesting” cities in the United States, though that’s an awfully vague term. Certainly, it has a deep past and rich history, not to mention a wide cultural reach. Ever enjoyed some riotous jazz music or a carousing Mardi Gras celebration? Maybe send a thank you card to New Orleans, then.

That vibrant cultural life has obviously informed much of the art and literature about New Orleans. How could a writer, director, painter, or other creator help themselves, really? As a result, we’re left with a growing collection of similarly vibrant and deeply alive works about the three-century-old city.

Read on for 20 of the best works of fiction about New Orleans. Sometimes, they’re happy. Sometimes, they’re deeply sad. On occasion, these works are angry and gritty. Almost always, they are complex and definitely worth a bit of your time. Take part in the vivid and lively life of New Orleans via these works.