Sing, Unburied, Sing
by Jesmyn Ward


Overview - WINNER of the NATIONAL BOOK AWARD and A NEW YORK TIMES TOP 10 BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR

A finalist for the Kirkus Prize, Andrew Carnegie Medal, Aspen Words Literary Prize, and a New York Times bestseller, this majestic, stirring, and widely praised novel from two-time National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward, the story of a family on a journey through rural Mississippi, is a "tour de force" ( O, the Oprah Magazine ) and a timeless work of fiction that is destined to become a classic.  Read more...


 
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More About Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
 
 
 
Overview
WINNER of the NATIONAL BOOK AWARD and A NEW YORK TIMES TOP 10 BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR

A finalist for the Kirkus Prize, Andrew Carnegie Medal, Aspen Words Literary Prize, and a New York Times bestseller, this majestic, stirring, and widely praised novel from two-time National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward, the story of a family on a journey through rural Mississippi, is a "tour de force" (O, the Oprah Magazine) and a timeless work of fiction that is destined to become a classic.

Jesmyn Ward's historic second National Book Award-winner is "perfectly poised for the moment" (The New York Times), an intimate portrait of three generations of a family and an epic tale of hope and struggle. "Ward's writing throbs with life, grief, and love... this book is the kind that makes you ache to return to it" (Buzzfeed).

Jojo is thirteen years old and trying to understand what it means to be a man. He doesn't lack in fathers to study, chief among them his Black grandfather, Pop. But there are other men who complicate his understanding: his absent White father, Michael, who is being released from prison; his absent White grandfather, Big Joseph, who won't acknowledge his existence; and the memories of his dead uncle, Given, who died as a teenager.

His mother, Leonie, is an inconsistent presence in his and his toddler sister's lives. She is an imperfect mother in constant conflict with herself and those around her. She is Black and her children's father is White. She wants to be a better mother but can't put her children above her own needs, especially her drug use. Simultaneously tormented and comforted by visions of her dead brother, which only come to her when she's high, Leonie is embattled in ways that reflect the brutal reality of her circumstances.

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 thirteen-year-old 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 is a majestic and unforgettable family story and "an odyssey through rural Mississippi's past and present" (The Philadelphia Inquirer).

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9781501126079
  • ISBN-10: 1501126075
  • Publisher: Scribner Book Company
  • Publish Date: May 2018
  • Page Count: 320
  • Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.6 pounds


Related Categories

Books > Fiction > Literary
Books > Fiction > African American - General
Books > Fiction > Magical Realism

 
BookPage Reviews

Book clubs: New in paperback

J.D. Vance’s bestselling Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and a Culture in Crisis is a timely consideration of life in working-class America. The son of a drug-addict mother and an absent father, Vance was brought up in Ohio by his native Kentuckian grandparents, who were steeped in the ways of Appalachia. A quarrelsome pair with a colorful past, they managed to give Vance the support he needed to move forward in life. Over the years, Vance—a Marine who served in Iraq and a Yale graduate—conquered the challenges of his upbringing and came into his own. Now a thriving lawyer, he chronicles his path to achievement in a compelling narrative that delivers an unflinching look at the difficulties of succeeding in contemporary America. Mixing social science, history and personal recollection, Vance writes with sensitivity about the barriers that often prevent working-class people from prospering, including the temptation of drugs. This is an earnest and important book that’s sure to resonate with readers.

GRACE BE WITH YOU
A smart, funny and affectionately rendered family portrait, Patricia Lockwood’s unforgettable memoir, Priestdaddy, was named one of the best books of 2017 by BookPage, The New Yorker, the Washington Post and many other publications. At the center of the narrative is Lockwood’s father, a Catholic priest who doesn’t quite fit the mold of a holy man. He plays guitar, appreciates fast cars, enjoys action movies and likes guns. After an emergency forces Lockwood and her husband to stay with her parents in the Kansas City rectory where she grew up, the young couple find they have some adjusting to do. Lockwood’s husband is puzzled by Catholicism, and Lockwood—no longer a churchgoer—struggles to come to terms with the beliefs that served as her family’s foundation. Lockwood writes vividly about her youth, recalling difficult incidents from her past, including her attempt at suicide. An accomplished poet, she beautifully reflects on the intricate ties of kinship and the complexities of organized religion. Book clubs will find much to savor and discuss in this incisive narrative.

TOP PICK FOR BOOK CLUBS
In her latest literary accomplishment, the National Book Award-winning novel Sing, Unburied, Sing, Jesmyn Ward tells the story of a broken family in Mississippi. Thirteen-year-old Jojo—the son of Michael, a white man, and Leonie, a black woman—struggles to find his way in the world. A drug user haunted by her brother’s death, Leonie doesn’t provide much in the way of home life for Jojo and his little sister, Kayla, who find stability in their grandparents. When Michael is released from jail, Leonie travels north to meet him, taking Jojo and Kayla with her. During the trip, Jojo discovers that he can talk to the ghost of a boy named Richie, who died years ago in a prison camp. The novel is narrated in turn by Jojo, Leonie and the ghost. A virtuoso storyteller, Ward shifts points of view effortlessly to create a richly atmospheric portrait of the South.

 

This article was originally published in the May 2018 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

 
BAM Customer Reviews