For 20 years, New Orleans Times-Picayune columnist Jarvis DeBerry offered the city its most honest look at itself: the good, the bad, the wonderful—and weird. Moreover, the city took note. DeBerry’s columns inspired letters to the editor, water cooler conversations, city council considerations and barbershop pontification.
Many of those columns are compiled in DeBerry’s new book, “I Feel To Believe,” published by the UNO Press and released Thursday. The columns span DeBerry’s time, starting in 1999, as an editorial writer and columnist at NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune.
The book captures the story of pre and post-Katrina New Orleans, and is a particularly noteworthy collection of columns by a particularly noteworthy voice in New Orleans media, UNO Press editor-in-chief Abram Himelstein said.
“For readers interested in a first-hand account of the fluctuating culture of New Orleans from the late 1990s to the mid-2010s, DeBerry’s columns offer a boldly-rendered perspective, playing witness to a city that is rooted in its traditions and yet undeniably privy to change,” Himelstein said.
“‘I Feel To Believe’ is all at once an accounting, a reckoning, a celebration.”
It documents two decades of constancy and upheaval, loss, racial injustice and class strife. Generations from now, DeBerry’s readers will receive a deep look at the Crescent City before, during and after Katrina, Himelstein said.
“Every great city has its truth tellers, and Jarvis DeBerry is one of the finest that New Orleanians—including those who claim her by sheer love—could hope to read,” said Dean Baquet, executive editor of The New York Times and a native New Orleanian.
DeBerry worked for The Times-Picayune newspaper in New Orleans from 1997 to 2019, first as a reporter, then as an editorial writer and columnist for NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune. He was part of the team of journalists awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for its coverage of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.
DeBerry is a five-time winner in the annual contest sponsored by the Louisiana/Mississippi Associated Press Managing Editors Association, as well as a two-time winner of the National Association of Black Journalists’ Salute to Excellence Award.
The UNO Press seeks work that contributes to the rich cultural tradition of New Orleans and the surrounding region, as well as work that contributes to the intellectual and aesthetic life of academic and general audiences everywhere.