Brooklyn Heights

National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward to speak at St. Francis College May 8

Brooklyn BookBeat

April 27, 2018 Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Jesmyn Ward, photo by Beowulf Sheehan

Scribner is thrilled to announce the paperback publication forSing, Unburied, Sing,” (May 8), the historic National Book Award winner that took the literary world by storm when it was published last fall.

On May 18, author Jesmyn Ward will speak at St. Francis College with Morgan Jenkins, presented by Books Are Magic.

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Few writers possess Jesmyn Ward’s artfulness, and fewer still write about topics more relevant — justice and injustice, poverty, incarceration, racial profiling, family, drug abuse, faith and the supernatural, the limits and the limitlessness of love. The result is a combination that made Sing, Unburied, Sing” one of the most lauded books of 2017: a finalist for multiple prizes, a regular on “best of” lists, winner of the National Book Award. Readers coming to this delicate, raw, electric novel as a paperback will find themselves moved, haunted and deeply changed.

Carrying the torch of Faulkner and “As I Lay Dying,” the book tells the emotional journey taken by Leonie, a single mother addicted to drugs; her son Jojo, 13; and his toddler sister, Kayla — who have been raised by their grandparents Pop, who tries to teach Jojo how to be a man, and Mam, who is sick with cancer — to Parchman Farm, the Mississippi State Penitentiary, where Jojo and Kayla’s white father is being released from prison. Ghosts and spirits hover over Ward’s narrative, which hums with ambition, complexity, heartache, rich visuals and resilience.

In “Sing, Unburied, Sing,” Ward shows us life on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi — lush and menacing and marked by a precise rural vernacular — and life within a family weighted by history and poverty but bonded by love.

Rich with Ward’s distinctive, musical language, it is a majestic new work and an essential contribution to American literature by a writer at the top of her game.

Ward received her MFA from the University of Michigan and is currently an associate professor of creative writing at Tulane University. She is the author of the novels “Where the Line Bleeds; Salvage the Bones,” which won the 2011 National Book Award. She is also the editor of the anthology “The Fire This Time” and the author of the memoir “Men We Reaped,” which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. From 2008-2010, Ward had a Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University. She was the John and Renée Grisham Writer in Residence at the University of Mississippi for the 2010-2011 academic year. In 2016, the American Academy of Arts and Letters selected Ward for the Strauss Living Award. She lives in Mississippi.


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