Selected Works

Library Journal: “The heroine’s determination to improve her life and never to give up define this novel… Lagasse recalls the socially realistic novels of John Steinbeck and Edward Dahlberg with this stark, unadorned prose portrait.”
“I sat right down and read the book and I love it. In her new novel, Navel of the Moon, Mary Helen Lagasse has created a wonderfully engaging and complex young woman who tells a compelling story of the promise and pain and shared courage of growing up, not just for herself but for her city of New Orleans. This splendid work gives further evidence of Lagasse’s permanent place in our literary culture."
–Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer Prize Winning Author
It recalls the classic novels while offering “a different kind of New Orleans – not magnolias, moonlight, or vampires... but a place where dreams are big and reality is disillusionment."
–Shirley Ann Grau, Pulitzer Prize Winning Author
Essay - “The Channel”
Ms. Lagasse is one of the My New Orleans contributors singled out for praise... in a review by The Los Angeles Times: "The true strength of 'My New Orleans' lies in its contributors acute observations of a culture that has remained defiantly different... The city may be most famous for its French colonial roots, but novelist Mary Helen Lagasse deftly sketches the more familiar multiculturalism of its 20th century neighborhoods... "

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Novel published JUNE, 2015



She is bilingual: American by birth, Latina by heritage. She received her degree from Tulane University, taught English Literature at private schools in Metairie, a suburb of New Orleans.

Before turning to literary fiction, she worked as a freelance writer. Her stories having appeared in all major publications in and around New Orleans. Her articles ran the gamut of political, social, cultural, and human interest issues. Her first literary award in a statewide contest for her short story, "Survival of the Species," was published in the Ellipsis, the literary periodical of the University of New Orleans.

She is an active longtime member of the Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society and past Executive Board Member of that organization. She is a member of The Authors Guild, and of the Women’s National Book Association.

Her debut novel, "The Fifth Sun," was awarded the Marmol Prize in a nation-wide competition, was awarded the Premio Atzlán by iconic author, Rudolfo Anaya, the 2005 Independent Publishers (IPPY) Best Multicultural Fiction Award, was a finalist for Foreword Magazine Best Book award, New Orleans Times-Picayune Best Books, and received numerous citations.

Her second novel, "Navel of the Moon," was published by Northwestern U. Press, under the Curbstone imprint in June, 2015.
Both novels will be available as eBooks

Her essay "The Channel" published by Simon & Schuster in the "My New Orleans" collection was cited by the Los Angeles Times as a [deft] sketch of the more familiar multiculturalism of 20th century neighborhoods.

Mary Helen is an artist of the Old Masters tradition, working almost exclusively in oils. For the last few years, she has joined fellow artists under the supervision of artist par excellence, June Lampe' at her art studio in Metairie.

She is a member of the Lyceum discussions group which studies the works of the Existentialist philosophers.
And she is an avid supporter and contributor to a number of animal rights organizations.

Mary Helen lives in Metairie, a stone’s throw from the heart of New Orleans.


IN THE WORKS: As you read this she will have completed a collection of nine short stories titled "TAPROOT." An excerpt of the title story TAPROOT can be read in the "Works" section of this website.

She is presently at work on a novel based on the 1830s construction of The New Basin Canal, New Orleans, where an inestimable number of Irish immigrant laborers died.


On Thursday, OCTOBER 29th, at 10 a.m., I'll be participating with two other fiction writers for presentations of our books at the Words & Music Literary Fest at Hotel Monteleone. Fiction writers Elise Blackwell and Tom Piazza ar participants in this event after which the three of us will sign in the book mart.

On OCTOBER 31, I'll be a PARTICIPATING AUTHOR at the LOUISIANA FESTIVAL OF BOOKS, in Baton Rouge! Details to follow.
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