Join us downtown at the main New Orleans Public Library for and event with author Robert W. Fieseler featuring the just released paperback release of his nonfiction New Orleans book, TINDERBOX: The Untold Story of the Up Stairs Lounge Fire and the Rise of Gay Liberation, winner of the winner of the Edgar Award for Best Fact Crime, winner of Lambda Literary's Judith A. Markowitz Award for Emerging LGBTQ Writers, and named a Best Book of the Year by Kirkus Reviews, Library Journal and Shelf Awareness. Fiesler will appear in conversation with New Orleans artist and Up Stairs Lounge historian Skylar Fein for a discussion commemorating the 46th anniversary of the Upstairs Lounge Fire and the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. TINDERBOX will be available for purchase courtesy of Octavia Books during the program, which will be followed by a book signing.
An essential work of American civil rights history, TINDERBOX mesmerizingly reconstructs the 1973 fire that devastated New Orleans’ subterranean gay community.
"In his impressive, meticulously reported debut as a nonfiction author, Robert Fieseler vividly re-creates the world that produced a galvanizing tragedy, a fire at a New Orleans bar in the summer of 1973 that took thirty-two lives. In reminding us of the furtiveness of gay life even in a tolerant city, and of the official culture's hostility to it, Tinderbox is riveting and unforgettable." - Nicholas Lemann, author of The Promised Land
Buried for decades, the Up Stairs Lounge tragedy has only recently emerged as a catalyzing event of the gay liberation movement. In revelatory detail, Robert W. Fieseler chronicles the tragic event that claimed the lives of thirty-one men and one woman on June 24, 1973, at a New Orleans bar, the largest mass murder of gays until 2016. Relying on unprecedented access to survivors and archives, Fieseler creates an indelible portrait of a closeted, blue- collar gay world that flourished before an arsonist ignited an inferno that destroyed an entire community. The aftermath was no less traumatic—families ashamed to claim loved ones, the Catholic Church refusing proper burial rights, the city impervious to the survivors’ needs—revealing a world of toxic prejudice that thrived well past Stonewall. Yet the impassioned activism that followed proved essential to the emergence of a fledgling gay movement. Tinderbox restores honor to a forgotten generation of civil-rights martyrs.
Robert W. Fieseler is a recipient of the Pulitzer Traveling Fellowship and the Lynton Fellowship in Book Writing. A writer for Buzzfeed, Narratively, and elsewhere, he became a New Orleans resident following the publication of Tinderbox.
Wednesday, June 26, 2019 - 6:00pm
New Orleans Public Library - 219 Loyola Avenue - New Orleans, LA 70112
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Liveright Publishing Corporation - June 4th, 2019