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Sing, unburied, sing : a novel by Jesmyn…
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Sing, unburied, sing : a novel (edition 2017)

by Jesmyn Ward

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,5251067,216 (4.09)225
Member:green_iguana
Title:Sing, unburied, sing : a novel
Authors:Jesmyn Ward
Info:New York : Scribner, 2017.
Collections:Books I have read
Rating:*****
Tags:2018, fiction, novel, race

Work details

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

  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 225 mentions

English (104)  Spanish (2)  All languages (106)
Showing 1-5 of 104 (next | show all)
The main character in this story is a 13 year old boy named Jojo. He is the son of a drug addict mother and his father is in jail. He is the main caregiver of his little sister Kayla because his mother is inconsistent in their lives. He does have a grandmother and grandfather that care for him deeply - Pop and Ma - who live with him. Jojo's mother can't quite put mothering at the top of her list of needs above her drug addiction, She is also tornmented by the constant presence of her dead brother, Given, who died as a teenager.



Jojo's dad is released from prison so his mom takes him and his sister to pick him up. Jojo meets a dead boy named Richie when he is at the prison. He was 13 when he was an inmate and carries the story of how bad the South was when he was there. He follows Jojo and his family home, hoping Jojo's grandfather - who knew the boy as an inmate - can help release him from earth.



This was a pretty good story. Like one reviewer stated "I appreciated it, but I didn't love it" - is how I feel as well. The writing was fantastic. And my heart broke for Jojo and Kayla knowing that there are so many kids in their kind of situation. But other than that - I just didn't connect to the story. Plots seemed to swirl around each other, and I had trouble connecting the characters to the story.



I am not saying don't read this book. There are too many things to like about it to pass it up. Just know that you may feel a little disconnected from the story. Or....you may not. ( )
  JenMat | Jan 10, 2019 |
Quality of Writing:8.99
Glad you read it?: 9.0
  bookclub4evr | Dec 31, 2018 |
Lyrical, tragic novel about a family in Mississippi haunted by ghosts of racism, addiction, violence, and misunderstanding. ( )
  jalbacutler | Dec 30, 2018 |
Hard read. ( )
  rolnickj | Dec 2, 2018 |
Lovely! Wonderful! ( )
  decaturmamaof2 | Nov 28, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 104 (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)

(summary from another edition)

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