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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
1,6811216,412 (4.08)251
  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 251 mentions

English (114)  Spanish (2)  All languages (116)
Showing 1-5 of 114 (next | show all)
My first response to this is that it wasn't as good as Salvage the Bones which is harsh as I believe that book to be one of the finest novels I have ever read. But there was something more that bothered me about this book. There was just too much familiar ground for it to feel like it stood on its own. The ghosts, the slave narrative, the drugs, the neglect. I read large chunks of this with a genuine sense of dread that worse things would happen, but in the end, the worst thing that happened was life caried on just as miserably as before. Disappointing, not just because it's not as good as Ms. Ward's earlier novel, but also because it was no better than a ton of other books I've read since. ( )
  asxz | Mar 13, 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 | Mar 6, 2019 |
Read it to learn through your heart why Black Lives Matter. Not in a preachy, hit-you-0ver-the head way, but in a real world, real people, empathetic way. A must read, for the same reasons as [b:White Tears|30780283|White Tears|Hari Kunzru|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1473185233s/30780283.jpg|51368613]. ( )
  badube | Mar 6, 2019 |
Jojo is 13-years old and lives with his mom, grandparents, and little sister, Kayla. His father, Michael, is in jail. When Michael is let out of jail, Jojo’s mom, Leonie, takes the kids (and her best friend, who also has a boyfriend in the same jail) to go pick him up. Leonie and Michael are an interracial couple and his parents didn’t approve, so they aren’t quite sure where they’ll go. Leonie isn’t a very good mom.

The story is told, mostly between Jojo’s and Leonie’s points of view. There is a 3rd POV, Richie, who I didn’t include in the summary. I could have done without Richie and his story altogether, really. Could have done without the ghosts and magical realism, in general. I didn’t like Leonie or Michael, but I did like Jojo and Kayla, and Pop, their grandfather. There was some back and forth in time, especially at the start of the book. Overall, I’m giving this 3 stars, ok. I did like the dysfunctional family storyline, and would have preferred the book stick to that part of the story. ( )
  LibraryCin | Mar 3, 2019 |
Often while I was reading Sing, Unburied, Sing, I had to hush my inner critic. Yes, Jesmyn Ward weaves some wonderful scenes and vivid sentences, but she really isn’t doing anything new. Yes, that climax is gut-wrenchingly affective, but it really isn’t anything that hasn’t been done before. It’s almost too easy to dismiss Sing, Unburied, Sing as just another book about a tormented family surviving racial injustice in the South, a setting that tends to invite ghosts (of which there are plenty here.) It’s easy to say that the narrative is nothing original and that the conclusion was powerful, but trite. Yes, I can just say, Jesmyn Ward isn’t doing anything new—she’s just carrying on the various traditions of Carson McCullers, Toni Morrison, William Faulkner, Alice Walker, John Steinbeck… Or I can say, “Damn, Jesmyn Ward is carrying on the tradition of Carson McCullers, Toni Morrison…John Steinbeck, and she’s doing a fabulous job of it!” ( )
  chrisblocker | Mar 3, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 114 (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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