After the Hurricane

Novelist Ernest J. Gaines says that, after Hurricane Katrina, he had to put aside the novel he’s been working on for ten years.

“Since the storm hit, I haven’t done much writing,” says the 72-year-old Gaines, best known for “A Lesson Before Dying” and “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman,” the imagined life story of a former slave.

Gaines’ stories have focused on personal struggle rather than political themes, and he sees Katrina in a similar way. He is not interested in discussing who is to blame for the tragic flooding. He thinks instead about individual acts of bravery and hopes that displaced hurricane victims, including family members, will return.

Gaines, a Louisiana native, has a collection of stories and essays coming out next month.