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Film studies instructor writes book on New Orleans social outcasts

Loyola press release - June 27, 2011

Jim Gabour, film studies instructor at Loyola University New Orleans, is receiving attention for his new novel “Unimportant People.” The Guardian, one of the largest and most popular news outlets in the United Kingdom, is publicizing the new work and the website opendemocracy.net is releasing weekly excerpts of the piece through the months of June and July.

“The advocacy group UNITY recently reported that 9,200 homeless people now live in the New Orleans area,” said Gabour. “That number represents a 70 percent rise since Katrina and ranks the city as having the highest homeless population in the United States. When you consider that the city is one-third smaller in population than it was prior to August 2005, the numbers indicate that around one out of every 30 New Orleans residents live on the streets.”

In “Unimportant People,” Gabour combines interviews and biographical portraits of those very individuals in New Orleans society who are deemed by most as having little worth–societal misfits, outcasts, outlaws and the homeless. The book follows a select “family” of 12 during a two-year period and documents their interaction and the effect of their progress on the city.

“These are people discovering ways to enfranchise themselves within a system that is determined to exclude and devalue them,” said Gabour. “I changed names and details to keep the subjects safe and fictionalized the stories a bit to keep the community unharmed, but the stories were born of reality, along with the characters.”

Excerpts from “Unimportant People” are being posted weekly to Open Democracy and can be read at http://www.opendemocracy.net/freeform-tags/unimportance .

For more information, contact Gabour at jgabour@loyno.edu.