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Het lied van de geesten roman by Jesmyn Ward
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Het lied van de geesten roman

by Jesmyn Ward, Harm Damsma, Niek Miedema

Series: Bois Sauvage (2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,6231583,898 (4.07)300
"A searing and profound Southern odyssey by National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward. 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. Drawing on Morrison and Faulkner, The Odyssey and the Old Testament, Ward gives us an epochal story, a journey through Mississippi's past and present that is both an intimate portrait of a family and an epic tale of hope and struggle. Ward is a major American writer, multiply awarded and universally lauded, and in Sing, Unburied, Sing she is at the height of her powers. 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. Sing, Unburied, Sing grapples with the ugly truths at the heart of the American story and the power, and limitations, of the bonds of family. Rich with Ward's distinctive, musical language, Sing, Unburied, Sing is a majestic new work and an essential contribution to American literature"--… (more)
Member:jankaldenbach
Title:Het lied van de geesten roman
Authors:Jesmyn Ward
Other authors:Harm Damsma, Niek Miedema
Info:Amsterdam Uitgeverij Atlas Contact © 2018
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:None

Work details

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

  1. 30
    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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English (156)  Spanish (2)  All languages (158)
Showing 1-5 of 156 (next | show all)
I had previously read Salvage The Bones and while I can't say I loved the story, the writing and the characters were so strong and vivid there was no doubt I would try Sing, Unburied, Sing. Jesmyn Ward's writing was even more memorable in this novel. The characters come to life through their interactions with one another. It doesn't feel like the characters are developed, but instead that they emerge. It is not a matter of liking or disliking; I simply will not forget.

I found my attention focused on Leonie. JoJo was an angel, just perfect. Leonie was complex. You could not forgive her for how she treated her children, especially such a basic injury as withholding food. But I could see she loved them, wanted to be a better mother, did not want to take them into situations that would be dangerous for them. She was dismayed and hurt that her children did not reach for her as their mother, but she deserved no better. She has lost their trust, as was evident when she tried to help Kayla when she was sick. Leonie is broken, but even in her degraded state she is capable of great sacrifice. And who does her mother ultimately reach out to?

The story revolved around the contrast between JoJo and Leonie. Both faced with similar challenges. One strong; one weak. One capable of immense love, one limited in her ability to love. Are the differences in the damages life can bring, in the material we begin with, or in the mixture of the two? ( )
  afkendrick | Oct 24, 2020 |
4.5 This is beautifully written and alternates between the present and the past with 3 voices: JoJo the main narrator, a 13 year old boy; Leonie, his less-than-proficient mother (he doesn't even call her Mom) and Richie, a "ghost" from the past. JoJo is essentially raised by Pop and Mam, his grandparents. Pop is a patient, kind, upright man and Mam made up for the love JoJo misses from Leonie - until cancer had weakened her and made her bed-ridden. Meanwhile, JoJo is raising his 3-yr-old sister Kayla. His (white) father Michael is in jail. These family dynamics are complicated, but the societal ones are even more so. It spans 1950-present day in rural MS and it's hard to see that much has changed. Leonie's view: "Sometimes the world don't give you what you need, no matter how hard you look." (104) The best way to describe this book is that it is a ghost story: the characters are haunted by real events and societal patterns and the mindset and (lack of ) opportunity that goes with poverty and minimal education and small lives. There is some magical realism or element of other-worldly here too as Mam, Leonie and JoJo all have the "gift" that manifests in different ways. Pop unjustly served time in Parchman, a legendary MS prison -- the same place Michael is now for manufacturing meth. Richie was a 12-yr old boy also in the prison whom Pop tried to save. He is now a troubled, trapped ghost seeking closure. He says "Home ain't always about a place....Home is about the earth. Whether the earth open to you. Whether it pull you so close the space between you and it melt and y'all one and it beats like your heart. Same time....The place is the song and I'm going to be part of the song." JoJo is the link between past and present and the agent of healing and redemption. Kaylie too in her own way, which proves there is hope for the future. This is not an easy read, but it is a worthwhile one. ( )
  CarrieWuj | Oct 24, 2020 |
I really enjoyed this story of life, death and redemption as told through the eyes of a 12 year old boy. The characters were so real I loved Jojo, Kayla and Mam and Pop, and felt scorn and pity for Leonie and Michael. I was afraid for the children more than once and couldn't put this book down, despite its dark themes. ( )
  klnbennett | Oct 7, 2020 |
I feel boneless and wrung out. In the best way possible, I think. ( )
  mmsmcetc | Sep 17, 2020 |
Wow, this was an excellent book. It takes place in Mississippi, where, amidst extreme racial tension, Leonie, who is Black, and Micheal, who is White, have fallen in love and had two children. Michael has been in jail and is about to be released, so Leonie brings the kids, JoJo and Michaela, to pick him up. Leonie is a careless young mother, addicted to opioids and prioritizing herself. Jojo and Michaela are, in essence, being raised by their grandparents.

There is a lot going on in this book, told from shifting points of view by Leonie and Jojo and the ghost of a young boy who was incarcerated with Jojo's grandfather decades ago. It all holds together very well, though. It's a complex look at family secrets, racism through a period of decades, and addiction. For me, I really struggle reading books that include drug use. For whatever reason, that is the topic that makes me most uncomfortable and upset (that and violence towards animals) - more than reading about violence, murder, abuse, poverty, etc. So reading this book was not easy for me, but I'm glad I stuck with it because it was very well done. I read in other reviews that some readers didn't like the ghost element, but I thought that was what really made the book special.

Highly recommended. ( )
  japaul22 | Aug 31, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 156 (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.
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I like to think I know what death is.
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"A searing and profound Southern odyssey by National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward. 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. Drawing on Morrison and Faulkner, The Odyssey and the Old Testament, Ward gives us an epochal story, a journey through Mississippi's past and present that is both an intimate portrait of a family and an epic tale of hope and struggle. Ward is a major American writer, multiply awarded and universally lauded, and in Sing, Unburied, Sing she is at the height of her powers. 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. Sing, Unburied, Sing grapples with the ugly truths at the heart of the American story and the power, and limitations, of the bonds of family. Rich with Ward's distinctive, musical language, Sing, Unburied, Sing is a majestic new work and an essential contribution to American literature"--

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Haiku summary
JoJo is tender,
Straight-backed as murdering Pop;
Kayla, too, sees ghosts.

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