Jesmyn Ward is highly decorated. At a recent reading, the roll call of her awards felt like they’d fill the full hour; that day's shortlisting for The Women’s Prize for Fiction was tagged to the end of an already weighty list.
But this Mississippi author was once rejected by book agents who thought her literary stories of impoverished black lives in America’s Deep South would fail to resonate. Instead, she’s not only articulated the struggles and personalities of those previously stripped of a voice, but found something universal in all of them.
Before the Black Lives Matter movement took hold, Ward had already published her memoir, The Men We Reaped. It told the story of five friends and relatives, including her brother — all young, black and male, all lost to accidents, murder or suicide.
Now, she’s releasing more non-fiction, The Fire This Time, an edited collection of writing about race...
Buzz: National Book Award 2017 winner, Women's Prize For Fiction 2018 shortlist, Barack Obama's Best Books of 2017, Margaret Atwood calls it “a must.”
This is the most grittily realistic book I’ve read in a while — it just happens to be a ghost story. Somehow, despite its fantastical content, Sing, Unburied, Sing feels distinctly believable.
The plot is simple; it’s a road trip, there and back again. Thirteen-year-old Jojo, and his little sister Kayla, are dragged across Mississippi by their drug-addicted mum, Leonie, to pick up their dad from prison. At home the two children are mainly looked after by their beloved grandfather, Pop, so being in their mum’s care has its own challenges. It also happens that Parchman prison is the same place Pop spent some years as an innocent teenager. While they’re there this time, Jojo encounters the ghost of one of Pop’s fellow inmates, who then hitches...