James Lee Burke's New Iberia

Those who are fans of author James Lee Burke (Bill O'Reilly is one) will easily recognize New Iberia as the setting for several of his famed Dave Robicheaux novels. Burke, who has been called the Faulkner of crime fiction, grew up in the Queen City. His hometown is clearly very dear to him, as evidenced by the prominent part that his fictionalized version of New Iberia plays in each of these stories.

The Main Street that Burke describes as the most beautiful in the country is just part of the attraction of New Iberia, a city having "southern manners and at the same time is a first-name kind of place." If one reads Dave Robicheaux’s descriptions, you get an even better picture of what downtown New Iberia is like.

    “I look down from the window at the brick paved street in the morning’s blue light, the colonnades over the sidewalks, a black man pushing a wooden cart laden with strawberries from under the overhang of a dark green oak tree. The scene looks like a postcard mailed from the nineteenth century.”

    —A Stained White Radiance, James Lee Burke

Burke, who still spends half the year in New Iberia, is one of only two authors to win two Edgar Awards. His novel The Lost Get Back Boogie was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead, another novel by Burke, was recently filmed in New Iberia and the surrounding areas.  Many locals were cast in the movie, which starred Tommy Lee Jones, John Goodman, Mary Steenburgen and Ned Beatty.  The movie is available on DVD.