Jesmyn Ward is simply one of the finest living authors in America today. And her novel Sing, Unburied, Sing — the third in a trilogy set in her native Mississippi — is as intense, beautiful, brutal, and vivid as its predecessors. Sing, Unburied, Sing is the story of Jojo, a biracial boy growing up in a family and in a place where nothing is simple and everything is dangerous. With an incarcerated father and a mother struggling with addictions, Jojo must learn to navigate the dynamics of a family in which there are no guarantees, and to figure out what it means to be a man.
Jesmyn is regularly compared to Faulkner, and for very good reason. She sings a deep, resonant song of American pain and love as she takes Jojo on a harrowing road trip with his erratic mother, his baby sister, and the ghosts (literally) of his family’s wrecked past.
Jesmyn joined me to talk about the inherent mysticism of writing fiction, the role in today’s culture of the artist/activist, the formative importance of her connection to the wild power of nature, the sense of community and belonging that keeps her grounded to her Mississippi roots, and more.
I am so grateful for Jesmyn’s time and talents. She is a true national treasure.
Find a reading group guide for Sing, Unburied, Sing here.