A hurricane is building over the Gulf of Mexico, threatening the coastal town of Bois Sauvage, Mississippi, and Esch's father is growing concerned. He's a hard drinker, largely absent, and it isn't often he worries about the family. Esch and her three brothers are stocking up on food, but there isn't much to save. Lately, Esch can't keep down what food she gets; at fifteen, she has just realized that she's pregnant. Her brother Skeetah is sneaking scraps for his prized pit bull's new litter, dying one by one. Meanwhile, brothers Randall and Junior try to stake their claim in a family long on child's play and short on parenting.
As the twelve days that make up the novel's framework yield to a dramatic conclusion, this unforgettable family - motherless children sacrificing for one another as they can, protecting and nurturing where love is scarce - pulls itself up to face another day.
'...And then we heard the rain falling, and that was the drops of blood falling; and when we came to get the crops, it was dead men that we reaped.' Harriet Tubman In five years, Jesmyn Ward lost five men in her life, to drugs, accidents, suicide, and the bad luck that can follow people who live in poverty, particularly black men. Dealing with these losses, one after another, made Jesmyn ask the question: why? And as she began to write about the experience of living through all the dying, she realized the truth--and it took her breath away. Her brother and her friends all died because of who they were and where they were from, because they lived with a history of racism and economic struggle that fostered drug addiction and the dissolution of family and relationships. Jesmyn says the answer was so obvious she felt stupid for not seeing it. But it nagged at her until she knew she had to write about her community, to write their stories and her own.
Jesmyn grew up in poverty in rural Mississippi. She writes powerfully about the pressures this brings, on the men who can do no right and the women who stand in for family in a society where the men are often absent. She bravely tells her story, revisiting the agonizing losses of her only brother and her friends. As the sole member of her family to leave home and pursue high education, she writes about this parallel American universe with the objectivity distance provides and the intimacy of utter familiarity.
LONGLISTED FOR THE WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION 2018
WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD 2017
ONE OF BARACK OBAMA'S BEST BOOKS OF 2017
SELECTED AS A BOOK OF THE YEAR BY THE NEW YORK TIMES, THE NEW STATESMAN, THE FINANCIAL TIMES, THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW, TIME AND THE BBC
Finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction
Finalist for the Kirkus Prize
Finalist for the Andrew Carnegie Medal
Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award
'This wrenching new novel by Jesmyn Ward digs deep into the not-buried heart of the American nightmare. A must' Margaret Atwood
'A powerfully alive novel haunted by ghosts; a road trip where people can go but they can never leave; a visceral and intimate drama that plays out like a grand epic, Sing, Unburied, Sing is staggering' Marlon James, Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2015
An intimate portrait of a family and an epic tale of hope and struggle, Sing, Unburied, Sing examines the ugly truths at the heart of the American story and the power - and limitations - of family bonds.
Jojo is thirteen years old and trying to understand what it means to be a man. His mother, Leonie, is in constant conflict with herself and those around her. She is black and her children's father is white. Embattled in ways that reflect the brutal reality of her circumstances, she wants to be a better mother, but can't put her children above her own needs, especially her drug use.
When the children's father is released from prison, Leonie packs her kids and a friend into her car and drives north to the heart of Mississippi and Parchman Farm, the State Penitentiary. At Parchman, there is another boy, the ghost of a dead inmate who carries all of the ugly history of the South with him in his wandering. He too has something to teach Jojo about fathers and sons, about legacies, about violence, about love.
Rich with Ward's distinctive, lyrical language, Sing, Unburied, Sing brings the archetypal road novel into rural twenty-first century America. It is a majestic new work from an extraordinary and singular author.
The first novel from two-time National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward, a timeless Southern fable of brotherly love and familial conflict
Joshua and Christophe are twins, raised by a blind grandmother and a large extended family in a rural town on Mississippi's Gulf Coast. Over the course of a single, life-changing summer, as they struggle to find work and contend with the reappearance of their parents - Cille, who left town for a better job, and Sandman, a dangerous addict - the brothers are forced into a series of decisions that will ultimately damn or save them.
A delicate and closely observed portrait of fraternal love and strife and the bonds that can sustain and torment us, Where the Line Bleeds marks the beginning of Jesmyn Ward's extraordinary career in fiction.
THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
A timely and groundbreaking collection of essays and poems about race in America edited by Jesmyn Ward, the first woman to win the National Book Award twice
In this bestselling collection of essays and poems, Jesmyn Ward gathers a new generation of writers and thinkers to speak on race. From Claudia Rankine to Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah, Jericho Brown to Carol Anderson, these voices shine a light on the darkest corners of American history, wrestle with the struggles the country faces today and imagine a better future.
Envisioned as a response to The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin's groundbreaking 1963 essay collection, The Fire This Time considers the black experience in modern America. Significant progress has been made in the fifty years since Baldwin's essays were published, but America is a long distance away from a post-racial society - a truth that must be confronted if the country is to continue to work towards change.
Baldwin's 'fire next time' is now upon us, and it needs to be talked about. Sage, urgent and impassioned, this is an essential collection edited by one of America's greatest writers.