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Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
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Sing, Unburied, Sing

by Jesmyn Ward

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Bois Sauvage (2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,6151126,717 (4.09)238
  1. 20
    Beloved by Toni Morrison (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Mournful spirits haunt both shattering works of African American magical realism that examine the effects of slavery (Beloved) and racism (Unburied) on women and children. Lyrical language and stylistically complex storytelling provide bulwarks from which to glimpse unbearable suffering in each.… (more)
  2. 00
    Of Love and Dust by Ernest J. Gaines (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: These searing novels feature complex, tragic, and flawed characters in the deep South and are set in part in punitive work camps where choices are limited, the threat of violence ubiquitous, and the corridors of fate narrow and unyielding.… (more)
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» See also 238 mentions

English (110)  Spanish (2)  All languages (112)
Showing 1-5 of 110 (next | show all)
Such an emotional punch, go read it ( )
  RekhainBC | Feb 15, 2019 |
This novel is both beautiful and brutal. Take a mixture of family, love, racism, poverty, drugs, prison, and grace, and throw in a few desperate, longing ghosts, and you have a book that enthralls. I wanted to shake some of the characters, I wanted to hug some of the characters, and often they shake or hug characters were the same. This is a heartfelt book but never becomes maudlin. I was skeptical when I started it, especially because it has received so much attention and praise, which doesn't always work out well for my tastes. But this book deserved every bit of the praise it has received. I listened to the audio version, and the three narrators were all wonderful – the right voices, the right intonations. A heartbreaking joy to read or listen to. ( )
  TooBusyReading | Feb 14, 2019 |
From the opening set piece description of Pop and his grandson, Jojo, slaughtering, butchering, and cooking a goat for Jojo’s 13th birthday dinner, the reader knows she is on heavily storied ground. Jojo’s mother, Leonie, doesn’t have the mothering instinct, much to the dismay of Jojo and his toddler sister, Kayla. Their father, Michael, is in Parchman, the Mississippi state penitentiary, but he is about to be released. And that means a road trip for Leonie and the children and Leonie’s work friend, Misty. Pop, meanwhile, will tend to his wife, Mam, who is dying of cancer, bedridden and ready for the end. The end, however, isn’t always the end. Sometimes it just opens up a further state of waiting, as is the case for Leonie’s murdered older brother, Given, whom she can see whenever she is high. And it isn’t true for Richie, a youth who died violently in Parchman back when Pop himself was serving a stretch there. Those with the gift, or curse, can see these lost souls and some may even have the power to help them find their way home.

Ward writes in a lyrical gothic style, alternating the narrative point of view between Leonie and Jojo, and latterly Richie. Between them we see a tapestry that is frayed and weathered by old violence, race hatred, spirituality and the lore that accompanies it, and cross-generational anxiety. Everyone, it seems, is looking for the mother or father they don’t have, or failing to become the mother or father one might hope them to be, or being forced into such roles before or after one’s time. The journey to Parchman and back introduces the cyclical nature of time and life. So it no surprise that the end of this tale sees many stories coming full circle.

Beautiful writing that can be easily recommended. ( )
  RandyMetcalfe | Feb 9, 2019 |
The main character in this story is a 13 year old boy named Jojo. His mother is a drug addict and his father is in jail. He takes care of his little sister Kayla most of the time. They live with their grandparents, who have always taken good care of them. However, as our story starts, his grandmother is dying and his grandfather is struggling with dealing with the loss of his wife. There is a lot going on in this story. It took me awhile to get completely involved in this story but I stuck with it and am glad that I did. The three readers of this audio were fantastic. ( )
  Dianekeenoy | Feb 4, 2019 |
Haunting. Jesmyn Ward has been described as the heir to Toni Morrison, and she absolutely deserves that title. She relentlessly depicts the effects of poverty, racism, and drugs in the deep South. But while Salvage the Bones shows the strength of family ties, Sing, Unburied, Sing heartbreakingly shows their limitations. This is a devastating story that I will be thinking about for a long time. ( )
  doryfish | Jan 31, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 110 (next | show all)
Ward’s prose counterpoints the inhumanity. She’s always reaching for a simile, something to pin the moment and find redemption in it..Jojo, Leona and Richie tell the story in turn. The fecund delta draws out the baroque. You’re never far from growth. You’re never far from decay. Ward brings story to the edge of allegory and keeps it there without tipping over...Ward has to deal with the festering cache of Black American history, to look at historic and present hurt, and to look past it at the same time. She does it brilliantly... Ward’s writing is laced with compassion. The wonder is that she can find room for it.
 
Sing, Unburied, Sing won the National Book award for fiction in the US. In many ways, though, it’s not as strong as Ward’s previous work, including her 2011 novel Salvage the Bones and her 2013 memoir Men We Reaped. Its dense lyricism is often heavy handed. In drawing on William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying – both in its multiple first-person narratives and its story of a poor rural family that embarks on a wagon trek to Mississippi – it comes across as self-consciously literary...Jojo, fierce and tender, is the endearing heart of the novel; other characters, including Leonie, are fitfully ventriloquised and remain rather distant. The ramshackle journey at its spine and Ward’s rendering of the region’s dark geologies and histories are more potent than her awkward stage-managing of spirits and apparitions in the second half. Still, for all its occasional mis- and oversteps, Sing, Unburied, Sing is a brooding, pained meditation on the proposition, spelled out by Colson Whitehead in The Underground Railroad, that “America is a ghost in the darkness
 

» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ward, Jesmynprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Chalk, Chrissecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Miceli, JayaCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sundström, JoakimTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wesley, Rutinasecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Who are we looking for, who are we looking for?
It's Equiano we're looking for.
Has he gone to the stream? Let him come back.
Has he gone to the farm? Let him return.
It's Equiano we're looking for.

----Kwa chant about the disappearance of Equiano an African boy
The memory is a living thing---it too is in transit. But during its moment, all that is remembered joins, and lives---the old and the young, the past and the present, the living and the dead.

---from One Writer's Beginnings,
by Eudora Welty
The Gulf shines dull as lead. The coast of Texas
glints like a metal rim. I have no home
as long as summer bubbling to its head

boils for that day when in the Lord God's name
the coals of fire are heaped upon the head
of all whose gospel is the whip and flame,

age after age, the uninstructing dead.

--from "The Gulf," by Derek Walcott
Dedication
For my mother, Norine Elizabeth Dedeaux, who loved me before I took my first breath. Every second of my life, she shows me so.
First words
I like to think I know what death is.
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Haiku summary
JoJo is tender,
Straight-backed as murdering Pop;
Kayla, too, sees ghosts.

No descriptions found.

"Jojo and his toddler sister Kayla live with their grandparents, Mam and Pop, and the occasional presence of their drug-addicted mother Leonie on a farm on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. Leonie is simultaneously tormented and comforted by visions of her dead brother, which only come to her when she's high; Mam is dying of cancer; and quiet, steady Pop tries to run the household and teach Jojo how to be a man. When the white father of Leonie's children is released from prison, she packs her kids and a friend into her car and sets out across the state for Parchman farm--the Mississippi State Penitentiary--on a journey rife with danger and promise"--… (more)

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