Guernica Magazine

Jesmyn Ward: Sing, Unburied, Sing

The author on her latest novel, transforming archetypes, and a changing Mississippi. The post Jesmyn Ward: Sing, Unburied, Sing appeared first on Guernica.
Hillel Steinberg / via Flickr

I first encountered Jesmyn Ward’s work through her 2011 novel Salvage the Bones, a searing account of an impoverished Gulf Coast family facing Hurricane Katrina, which won both the Alex and the National Book Award. Ward’s 2013 lyrical memoir, The Men We Reaped, explores the death of five young African American men, including her brother, Joshua, in an attempt to analyze how racism, inequity, and lapsed personal and public responsibility impacted Ward’s community, the South, and America. In 2016 Ward edited the poetry and essay collection The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race, inviting Claudia Rankine, Natasha Tretheway, Isabel Wilkerson, Jericho Brown and others to respond to James Baldwin’s seminal work.

Ward returns to fiction with her latest book, , an ambitious novel which explores the saga of a mixed race family in Mississippi, a state where interracial marriage was not legalized until 1967. In , the mother, Leonie, journeys north to the Mississippi Delta with her children, JoJo and Kayla, to

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