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.
The deepest, stillest night sky that I have ever experience happened in 2001 on the side of the highway in Argentina that connects the colonial era city of Salta to Buenos Aires. At some point on our drive, my friend Daryl, one half of the couple that I was traveling with, pulled our rental car to the side of the road.
(I’ve shared that reading fiction is one of my favorite quiet activities.)
Beauty is a Wound is the English language debut by Indonesian writer, Eka Kurniawan. My book group selected this novel for this coming month’s discussion. The blurb piqued our interest. What we know is that the story is epic in scope, set in Indonesia and is saturated in “magical realism.” How could we resist? We like to take chances.
To learn more about the author and this novel (as well as his previous novel) check out this write up in the NY Times Sunday Book Review from 2015.