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Jesmyn Ward, two-time National Book Award winner and author of Sing, Unburied, Sing, delivers a gritty but tender novel about family and poverty in the days leading up to Hurricane Katrina.
A hurricane is building over the Gulf of Mexico, threatening the coastal town of Bois Sauvage, Mississippi, and Esch's father is growing concerned. A hard drinker, largely absent, he doesn't show concern for much else. Esch and her three brothers are stocking food, but there isn't much to save. Lately, Esch can't keep down what food she gets; she's fourteen and pregnant. Her brother Skeetah is sneaking scraps for his prized pitbull's new litter, dying one by one in the dirt. Meanwhile, brothers Randall and Junior try to stake their claim in a family long on child's play and short on parenting.
As the twelve days that make up the novel's framework yield to their dramatic conclusion, this unforgettable family--motherless children sacrificing for one another as they can, protecting and nurturing where love is scarce--pulls itself up to face another day. A big-hearted novel about familial love and community against all odds, and a wrenching look at the lonesome, brutal, and restrictive realities of rural poverty, Salvage the Bones is muscled with poetry, revelatory, and real.
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).
Two-time National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward (Salvage the Bones, Sing, Unburied, Sing) contends with the deaths of five young men dear to her, and the risk of being a black man in the rural South.
“We saw the lightning and that was the guns; and then we heard the thunder and that was the big guns; and then we heard the rain falling and that was the blood falling; and when we came to get in the crops, it was dead men that we reaped.” -Harriet Tubman
In five years, Jesmyn Ward lost five young men in her life-to drugs, accidents, suicide, and the bad luck that can follow people who live in poverty, particularly black men. Dealing with these losses, one after another, made Jesmyn ask the question: Why? And as she began to write about the experience of living through all the dying, she realized the truth-and it took her breath away. Her brother and her friends all died because of who they were and where they were from, because they lived with a history of racism and economic struggle that fostered drug addiction and the dissolution of family and relationships. Jesmyn says the answer was so obvious she felt stupid for not seeing it. But it nagged at her until she knew she had to write about her community, to write their stories and her own.
Jesmyn grew up in poverty in rural Mississippi. She writes powerfully about the pressures this brings, on the men who can do no right and the women who stand in for family in a society where the men are often absent. She bravely tells her story, revisiting the agonizing losses of her only brother and her friends. As the sole member of her family to leave home and pursue higher education, she writes about this parallel American universe with the objectivity distance provides and the intimacy of utter familiarity. A brutal world rendered beautifully, Jesmyn Ward's memoir will sit comfortably alongside Edwidge Danticat's Brother, I'm Dying, Tobias Wolff's This Boy's Life, and Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
Where the Line Bleeds is Jesmyn Ward’s gorgeous first novel and the first of three novels set in Bois Sauvage—followed by Salvage the Bones and Sing, Unburied, Sing—comprising a loose trilogy about small town sourthern family life. Described as “starkly beautiful” (Publishers Weekly, starred review), “fearless” (Essence), and “emotionally honest” (The Dallas Morning News), it was a finalist for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award and the Virginia Commonwealth University Cabell First Novelist Award.
Joshua and Christophe are twins, raised by a blind grandmother and a large extended family in rural Bois Sauvage, on Mississippi’s Gulf Coast. They’ve just finished high school and need to find jobs, but after Katrina, it’s not easy. Joshua gets work on the docks, but Christophe’s not so lucky and starts to sell drugs. Christophe’s downward spiral is accelerated first by crack, then by the reappearance of the twins’ parents: Cille, who left for a better job, and Sandman, a dangerous addict. Sandman taunts Christophe, eventually provoking a shocking confrontation that will ultimately damn or save both twins.
Where the Line Bleeds takes place over the course of a single, life-changing summer. It is a delicate and closely observed portrait of fraternal love and strife, of the relentless grind of poverty, of the toll of addiction on a family, and of the bonds that can sustain or torment us. Bois Sauvage, based on Ward’s own hometown, is a character in its own right, as stiflingly hot and as rich with history as it is bereft of opportunity. Ward’s “lushly descriptive prose…and her prodigious talent and fearless portrayal of a world too often overlooked” (Essence) make this novel an essential addition to her incredible body of work.
In this bestselling, widely lauded collection, Jesmyn Ward gathers our most original thinkers and writers to speak on contemporary racism and race, including Carol Anderson, Jericho Brown, Edwidge Danticat, Kevin Young, Claudia Rankine, and Honoree Jeffers. “An absolutely indispensable anthology” (Booklist, starred review), The Fire This Time shines a light on the darkest corners of our history, wrestles with our current predicament, and imagines a better future.
Envisioned as a response to The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin’s groundbreaking 1963 essay collection, these contemporary writers reflect on the past, present, and future of race in America. We’ve made significant progress in the fifty-odd years since Baldwin’s essays were published, but America is a long and painful distance away from a “post-racial society”—a truth we must confront if we are to continue to work towards change. Baldwin’s “fire next time” is now upon us, and it needs to be talked about; The Fire This Time “seeks to place the shock of our own times into historical context and, most importantly, to move these times forward” (Vogue).
For Tulane University’s 2018 commencement, Jesmyn Ward delivered a stirring speech about the value of hard work and the importance of respect for oneself and others. Speaking about the challenges she and her family overcame, Ward inspired everyone in the audience with her meditation on tenacity in the face of hardship. Ward’s moving words will inspire readers as they prepare for the next chapter in their lives, whether, like Ward, they are the first in their families to graduate from college or are preceded by generations, or whether they are embarking on a different kind of journey later in life.
Beautifully illustrated in full color by Gina Triplett, this gorgeous and profound book will charm a generation of students—and their parents. Ward’s inimitable voice shines through as she shares her experience as a Southern black woman and addresses the themes of grit, adversity, and the importance of family bonds. Navigate Your Stars is a perfect gift for anyone in need of inspiration from the author of Salvage the Bones, Men We Reaped, and Sing, Unburied, Sing.
À Bois Germaine, dans l'État de Louisiane, deux frères jumeaux entrent dans l'âge adulte : l'un trouve du travail, l'autre pas. L'un s'élèvera, l'autre chutera... Premier roman de Jesmyn Ward, une œuvre violente, tragique mais aussi pleine de chaleur et d'espoir.
Violente et tragique, mais aussi pleine de chaleur et d'espoir, une œuvre engagée et puissante profondément imprégnée de la littérature du Sud, le premier roman de Jesmyn Ward où pointaient déjà la rage et l'émotion qui allaient faire de
Bois Sauvage un triomphe, récompensé par le National Book Award.
Depuis qu'ils ont fêté leurs dix-huit ans en décrochant leur diplôme, les jumeaux Joshua et Christophe n'ont plus qu'une idée en tête : trouver du travail. Mais que faire quand on habite un trou paumé de Louisiane, qu'on est noir, pauvre, fils d'une mère absente et d'un père junkie et dealer ?
Alors, en attendant, les deux frères tuent le temps avec les copains, entre matchs de basket et virées en voiture, séances de fumette et pelotage des filles sur les banquettes arrière. Et s'occupent comme ils le peuvent de Ma-Mee, leur grand-mère adorée.
Et puis Joshua trouve un boulot chez les dockers.
Christophe, lui, ne voit toujours rien venir. Et la frustration monte. De passer ses journées à glander, de ne pas avoir de copine régulière, d'être le moins dégourdi des deux, de ne pas pouvoir payer sa part des médicaments de Ma-Mee.
Que faire ? Tenter d'échapper à son destin ? Ou tomber dans le piège de l'argent facile et répéter l'histoire familiale...
Seule femme à avoir reçu deux fois le National Book Award, Jesmyn Ward nous livre un roman puissant, hanté, d'une déchirante beauté, un road trip à travers un Sud dévasté, un chant à trois voix pour raconter l'Amérique noire, en butte au racisme le plus primaire, aux injustices, à la misère, mais aussi l'amour inconditionnel, la tendresse et la force puisée dans les racines.
Jojo n'a que treize ans mais c'est déjà l'homme de la maison. Son grand-père lui a tout appris : nourrir les animaux de la ferme, s'occuper de sa grand-mère malade, écouter les histoires, veiller sur sa petite sœur Kayla.
De son autre famille, Jojo ne sait pas grand-chose. Ces blancs n'ont jamais accepté que leur fils fasse des enfants à une noire. Quant à son père, Michael, Jojo le connaît peu, d'autant qu'il purge une peine au pénitencier d'État.
Et puis il y a Leonie, sa mère. Qui n'avait que dix-sept ans quand elle est tombée enceinte de lui. Qui aimerait être une meilleure mère mais qui cherche l'apaisement dans le crack, peut-être pour retrouver son frère, tué alors qu'il n'était qu'adolescent.
Leonie qui vient d'apprendre que Michael va sortir de prison et qui décide d'embarquer les enfants en voiture pour un voyage plein de dangers, de fantômes mais aussi de promesses...
Grand prix des lectrices de ELLE 2019
Prix AMERICA 2019
Couronnée par le National Book Award, une œuvre violente et bouleversante, aux accents faulknériens. Dans la chaleur étouffante d'un Mississippi pauvre et oublié de tous, l'histoire d'une famille fracassée par une des plus grandes catastrophes de l'histoire des États-Unis.
Esch Baptiste, quatorze ans, observe. Elle voit son père tenter de s'extirper des vapeurs de l'alcool pour consolider leur masure ; elle voit Randall, son frère aîné, s'entraîner sans relâche au basket, dans l'espoir de décrocher une bourse sportive, d'échapper enfin à Bois Sauvage , à cette misère; elle voit Skeet, le cadet, voler de la nourriture pour China, son pitbull adoré, sa championne de combats ; elle voit Junior, le petit dernier, chercher un peu de tendresse et d'attention ; elle voit leur mère, morte en couches, qui veille sur eux malgré tout ; et puis elle voit son corps qui change, ce secret dont elle ne peut parler à personne, ce bébé qu'elle n'attendait pas.
Dans dix jours, un ouragan va frapper le golfe du Mexique. Mais cet ouragan n'est pas un ouragan comme les autres, c'est Katrina, la mère de tous les ouragans. Telle Médée dont Esch lit et relit l'histoire, Katrina est venue pour tuer...
National Book Award, 2011