Sing, Unburied, Sing
Books | Fiction / Literary
*WINNER of the NATIONAL BOOK AWARD for FICTION *A TIME MAGAZINE BEST NOVEL OF THE YEAR and A NEW YORK TIMES TOP 10 OF 2017 *Finalist for the Kirkus Prize *Finalist for the Andrew Carnegie Medal *Finalist for the Aspen Words Literary Prize *Publishers Weekly Top 10 of 2017 *Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award 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.In Jesmyn Ward’s first novel since her National Book Award–winning Salvage the Bones, this singular American writer brings the archetypal road novel into rural twenty-first-century America. An intimate portrait of a family and an epic tale of hope and struggle, Sing, Unburied, Sing journeys through Mississippi’s past and present, examining 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. 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 new work and an unforgettable family story.
Coming Of Age
Simon and Schuster
Community ReviewsSee all
"In reading this moving, brutally gorgeous novel, I felt my privilege in a personal way. I am from the Gulf Coast of Mississippi like the setting of this novel. When I was Jojo’s age (13) I lived in a nearby town. It’s a segregated place and we are all worse for it. If you haven’t gotten to this one yet, recommended."
"I love a story from multiple POVs and this one kept me hooked the entire time. Longing to know more of what’s next and maybe a second book?"
"Powerful prose, lyrical writing. Heavy. Not a light read, but worth it. "