Sing, Unburied, Sing

Jesmyn Ward ( won  the 2011 National Book Award for Fiction for her 2011 book ‘Salvage the Bones’. Her 2017 novel is Sing, Unburied, Sing describes a black woman and her two children driving to a prison to pick up their white father. We are introduced to the convict’s son, Jojo, who has been forced to shoulder  more responsibility than any 13-year-old should. His drug-addled mother Leonie has failed to properly care for him or his 3-year-old sister. Driving to the state penitentiary several hours away, Leonie  imagines she can make amends but her intentions are undermined by her own moral failings. She risks her children’s safety in a series of crises that hurtles the novel forward toward calamity.Ward cleverly links these broken lives to the past, and the damage done to their forebears. These are the ‘unburied singers’ of the title. Leonie is haunted by her brother, who was shot by a white man in a hunting accident. Jojo, meanwhile, can see and hear the agonized spirit of a boy who was imprisoned with his beloved grandfather decades ago when Southern jails were essentially a system of legalized slavery. This novel bravely explores themes of fatherhood , family relations, historical legacy, violence, and love. A bracing, and at the same time lyrical, read about contemporary America and its past.


304 pages in Bloomsbury

First published 2017

ISBN  978-1408890967


Jesmyn Ward

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