Jesmyn Ward has won the National Book Award for Fiction twice here in the US. The first time was for Salvage the Bones (2011) and the second is for this book released last year. Ward is the only female author to win the award more than once. Last year she also received a MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant.” Her essays and other nonfiction work have received high praise as well.
I don’t actually remember all that much about Salvage the Bones, but I remember feeling like it didn’t make much of impression on me. I am, however, excited to read this novel. I have enjoyed the first few pages which introduce us to biracial 13 year old JoJo and some of the complicated male and female family figures in his life in Mississippi–all of whom occupy a decaying, dreamy and malevolent landscape.
A lot has changed in America between the writing of Salvage the Bones and Sing, Unburied, Sing. This feels like a book of its time.
My fiction book group selected this novel as our book for June. I have five days to read it to be ready for our discussion next week.
I will be reading it quietly.
And I will be reading it quickly.