Visible Empire (Hardcover)

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Visible Empire By Hannah Pittard Cover Image

Visible Empire (Hardcover)

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June 2018 Indie Next List


“Pulling from the historical record, Hannah Pittard has constructed a compelling novel around the Air France crash at Orly that shook the Atlanta art scene in 1962. The well-constructed narrative shifts effortlessly among a few characters to provide a richer, more comprehensive perspective on the disaster and its aftermath. Visible Empiregoes well beyond a simple retelling of the contemporary newspaper accounts and addresses the issues of race, wealth, and culture prevalent in that moment and that still persist today.”
— Jay McCoy, , ,

Summer 2019 Reading Group Indie Next List


“When a plane full of Atlanta art society’s elite crashes in France, the disaster transforms the city with astounding repercussions. Set against a backdrop of the rising civil rights movement, Visible Empire is a compelling tale of grief, race, and class. Author Hannah Pittard creates a riveting, emotional drama that will get book clubs talking and leave readers pondering the ways these same issues appear in contemporary America. Well done.”
— Pamela Klinger-Horn, Excelsior Bay Books, Excelsior, MN

Staff Reviews


A horrific plane crash in 1962 took the lives of most of Atlanta's cultural elite, presaging the vast changes that were to occur in the city and society.  Hannah Pittard artfully weaves together the stories of a diverse group of people who not only must adjust to the void in their lives but also confront a rising social change that will alter the entire fabric of the city.  Once again the author demonstrates her ability to use language succinctly yet exquisitely.

— From Bill's 2018 Picks

An epic novel—based on true events—of love, grief, race, and wealth, charting a single sweltering summer in Atlanta that left no one unchanged

On a humid summer day, the phones begin to ring: disaster has struck. Chateau de Sully, a Boeing 707 chartered to ferry home more than one hundred of Atlanta’s most prominent citizens from a European jaunt, crashed in Paris shortly after takeoff. It is the second-deadliest disaster in the history of aviation. Overnight, the city of Atlanta changes.

Left behind are children, spouses, lovers, and friends faced with renegotiating their lives. Robert, a newspaper editor, must decide if he can reconnect with his beloved but estranged wife, whose swindler parents have left her penniless. Nineteen-year-old Piedmont Dobbs, recently denied admission to an integrated school, senses a moment of uncertain opportunity. And Mayor Ivan Allen is tasked with the job of moving Atlanta forward—the hedonism of the 60s and the urgency of the Civil Rights movement at his city’s doorstep.

Visible Empire is the story of a husband and wife who can’t begin to understand each other until chaos drives them to clarity. It’s a story of the promise and hope that remain in the wake of crisis.
HANNAH PITTARD was born in Atlanta. She is the author of four novels, including Listen to Me and The Fates Will Find Their Way. Her work has appeared in the Sewanee Review, the New York Times, and other publications. She is a professor of English at the University of Kentucky, where she directs the MFA program in creative writing.
Product Details ISBN: 9780544748064
ISBN-10: 0544748069
Publisher: Ecco
Publication Date: June 5th, 2018
Pages: 288
Language: English

An Indie Next List Pick  An Amazon Editors’ Pick for Summer Fiction?  One of iBooks "Summer's Most Anticipated Books"  Belletrist Book Club's June Book of the Month  A New York Times Book Review “New & Noteworthy” Selection An O, the Oprah Magazine "Top Book of Summer"  A Town & Country "Best Book to Read This June" A Southern Living "Best New Book of Summer"  A Bitter Southerner “Upcoming Southern Novel We Can’t Wait to Read”  A Refinery29 "Quick Beach Read Practically Written For Weekend Getaways" A Globe and Mail "Coolest Book of the Season"  A Publisher’s Lunch “Highly Anticipated” Title   "Captivating...[Pittard] brings her kaleidoscopic perspective to a catastrophe on an epic scale...With her keen eye for social markers and a deft weave of intersecting storylines, Pittard exposes social fissures and tensions over race and class, and how power and privilege play out in the shadows of grief."—Los Angeles Times   “Pittard’s novel combines a sense of personal loss and turmoil with greater societal change as the civil rights movement arrives at its peak.”—New York Times Book Review, A “New & Noteworthy” selection   "Pittard’s earlier novels [...] established her as a formidable writer. The prose in Visible Empire [...] remains assured, polished, readable, and she renders a 1962 Atlanta that is vivid and just-enough interconnected. Ultimately, Pittard shoulders the burden of history with responsibility and resolve, and a brave imagination."—Atlanta Journal-Constitution   "On June 3, 1962, a flight carrying more than 100 of Atlanta's wealthiest residents crashed on takeoff from Paris. Pittard's kaleidoscopic novel, a fictionalized account of that disaster and its aftermath, illuminates the personal and communal grief (and, in some cases, wicked delight) of those left behind."—O, the Oprah Magazine, "Top Books of Summer"   "The writing throughout is masterful, bringing this turbulent time in local history to living, breathing life. A triumph."—Toronto Star   “Beautiful…In Pittard’s masterful hands, the intricately woven plots and personalities that make up Visible Empire are relatable and corporeal...Pittard’s command of voice is so dexterous and adroit…it takes an author of [her] caliber, finesse and nuance to articulate such a complicated place and time as Atlanta in the 1960s."—ArtsATL   "In 1962, Air France Flight 007 crashed upon takeoff and all 122 passengers—a group of prominent Atlanta citizens taking an inaugural jaunt on a route from Paris to Georgia—died. In this, the latest novel from Listen to Me author Hannah Pittard, that real-life crash kicks off a fictional series of events that changes a city and its people forever."—Town & Country, "The Best Books to Read This June"   "In the emotional aftermath of the June 1962 Paris plane crash that killed 120 of Atlanta’s leading citizens, a chorus of grieving survivors tell tales of love and loss, even as their city — often divided by class and race — seeks to cope with change and uncertainty."Minneapolis Star Tribune, "Summer Books"   "Embracing the promise and hope that remain in the wake of a crisis, this gripping novel by Atla —