A novel inspired by the true story of a lone policeman who was killed at the edge of one of the most dangerous housing projects in New Orleans
Thea Tamborella returns to New Orleans after a ten-year absence to find the city of her birth changed, still a place of deep contradictions, a sensuous blend of religion, tradition, bonhomie, and decadence, but now caught in a web of fear caused by bad economic times, crime, and racial unrest.
Burgess Monroe is the drug kingpin of the Convent Street Housing Project. He has always known he would die young, and now he wants to use his wealth to do something for the poor people of the project where he grew up.
Delzora Monroe, Burgess’s mother, works as a housekeeper in the mansion on Convent Street that Thea inherits from her aunt. Zora loves her son, but she knows that he has used his life to do evil, and she mistrusts his motives. She fears the repercussions when an attraction develops between Thea and Burgess.
The violence that results from the death of the lone cop has the city in the grips of fear. On both sides of Convent Street, the rich and the poor, that violence is about to be played out . . .
“No one writes better or more accurately about New Orleans than Christine Wiltz. But Glass House is far more than a story about one city. It’s about the fear and rage and desperation that are destroying us as a people and a nation. The psychological complexity of Wiltz’s characters reminds me of James Baldwin and Ernest Gaines at their best. This is a tragic story about people, white and black, who have lost faith in themselves and have come to fear and loathe the world in which they must live. There are no villains here, only fearful and cornered people who flail at the darkness that surrounds them. New Orleans itself becomes a living, wounded presence as pervasive as the smell of Confederate jasmine or the reek of garbage cans behind the Convent project. I have never read a better depiction of the tormented American heart.” —James Lee Burke
“It is the painful and unflinching honesty with which Wiltz confronts the issue of crime and fear of crime that give her novel its strength and power . . . A novel that needs to be read on both sides of Convent Street.” —The New York Times Book Review
“There’s romance in this book as well, [and] Wiltz’s expertly paced story sustains real entertainment while causing readers to search their hearts for their own hidden version of Convent Street.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“A gripping, thought-provoking drama.” —Kirkus Review
“Glass House is a stunning achievement: a novel about prejudice, without prejudice. Like Nadine Gordimer’s, Christine Wiltz’s eye upon the futility around her is not clouded by a personal agenda; this is a book that could only have been written by an insider. Sometimes frightening, sometimes mordantly funny, always compelling, always honest, Glass House is an important novel, one that commands and deserves complete attention.” —Valerie Martin
“Christine Wiltz is a writer I believe. ‘As a nation of free men we will live forever or die by suicide,” she recites, in an extraordinary quotation from Lincoln. It can be read as a prediction of the war between the races in which we are all, more and more, tragically and comically, engaged. Ms. Wiltz’s novel is, among other things, a report from the New Orleans battlefront in that war.” —Vance Bourjaily Christine Wiltz, a native of New Orleans, is the author of five novels, including The Killing Circle, A Diamond Before You Die, and The Emerald Lizard, all set in New Orleans and featuring Irish Channel detective Neal Rafferty. Her novel The Glass House was praised by the New York Times as “unflinchingly honest” and a book that “needs to be read on both sides of Convent Street.” Shoot the Money, her most recent fiction, is an edgy “sisters in crime” novel reminiscent of Thelma and Louise. The Last Madam, her biography of French Quarter legend Norma Wallace, is under option for film.
Wiltz has written for the New Yorker, the Los Angeles Times, and numerous other publications. She has been a writer-in-residence and adjunct professor at both Tulane and Loyola Universities.