Sing, Unburied, Sing

Sing, Unburied, Sing

A Novel

Book - 2017
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*Finalist for the Kirkus Prize
*Finalist for the Andrew Carnegie Medal
*Publishers Weekly Top 10 of 2017
*Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award

"The heart of Jesmyn Ward's Sing, Unburied, Sing is story--the yearning for a narrative to help us understand ourselves, the pain of the gaps we'll never fill, the truths that are failed by words and must be translated through ritual and song...Ward's writing throbs with life, grief, and love, and this book is the kind that makes you ache to return to it." -- Buzzfeed

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.
Publisher: New York : Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 2017.
Edition: First Scribner hardcover edition.
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9781501126062
Branch Call Number: WARD J
Characteristics: 289 pages ; 23 cm


From Library Staff

Nominee, Fiction

LPL_KateG Sep 14, 2017

Jesmyn Ward is the queen of capturing smooth, Southern voices and weaving them into luscious and emotional tales.

From the critics

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Feb 15, 2018

Jesmyn Ward has quickly become my new writer crush. I could hardly wait to read all of her works. And they never disappoint. Now waiting semi-patiently for the next one.
Note: I tried to give this 5 stars, but was unable to correct. This book is THAT good!

Feb 13, 2018

One of those stories that stay with you. I felt the ending to be underwhelming, there was so much build up to the climax and I felt nearly abandoned by how quickly it ended afterwards. These characters and their stories will stay with you long after the last page is read.

Feb 11, 2018

A heartbreaking comment on the corrosive nature of poverty has on Black bodies, specifically on those inhabited by young man Jojo, his mother and his sister. Told through flashback, too, is the memory of a boy who was destroyed while living in a Southern work prison, and the act of mercy performed by his friend. Makes the assertion that, by and large, life for African Americans has not improved over the last 70 years.

AL_LESLEY Feb 08, 2018

This book is a tough one. Short but full of meaning and feeling. Ward wrote so wonderfully that I could almost see, smell and hear what was written. Some of it was so visceral I felt angry and a bit ill. I wouldn't want to fall into this book for sure but it is definitely amazing.

Feb 08, 2018

I gave this book 1.5 stars. Well written at times, but very sloppy most of the time. This author is over-hyped for someone who has so little talent.

SCL_Justin Jan 25, 2018

Sing, Unburied, Sing is a ghost story. I didn't realize that going in. I thought it was going to be a well-told tale of family life in troubling circumstances in the South, which was definitely the case, but the ghosts were an extra. I enjoyed the complexity of the relationships, and the fraughtness of everything. Not a feelgood book, but who looks to ghost stories to feel good?

Jan 18, 2018

Magical and captivating story of loss and hope.

DBRL_LaurenW Jan 17, 2018

One of the best books I read in 2017. Lyrical and haunting. Ward's prose is beautiful, which makes the novel's ache and sadness bearable.

Jan 12, 2018

I loved the imagery and could not put it down.

Jan 10, 2018

#4 on Entertainment Weekly's Best Books of 2017

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