- Hardcover: 304 pages
- Publisher: Scribner; 1st edition (September 5, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1501126067
- ISBN-13: 978-1501126062
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 670 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,637 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
+ Free Shipping
Sing, Unburied, Sing: A Novel Hardcover – September 5, 2017
|New from||Used from|
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
An Amazon Best Book of September 2017: A slamming, heartbreaker of a novel that is rendered with such stinging beauty and restrained emotion that despite the anguish taking place on the page, you won’t want it to end. For her third novel, National Book Award winning Jesmyn Ward, tells the story of Jojo, a young black Mississippi boy raised by his grandparents, who is forced to become a man far before he should because his mother is a drug addict, his father is in jail, and his baby sister needs a guardian. When Jojo’s dad is released from prison, Leonie packs Jojo and Kayla in the car, picks up her meth addled friend and drives north. What transpires is a nightmarish journey that weaves in and out of the present – Leonie’s meth induced highs, when she dreams of her dead brother who was killed by white hands decades ago, and the past -- when a man named Ritchie served time alongside Jojo’s grandfather. Sing, Unburied, Sing shimmers with mythic southern memories to tell a story of the drugged and the damned and the fluttering promise of youth. --Al Woodworth
"Ghosts, literal and literary, haunt nearly every page of Sing, Unburied, Sing — a novel whose boundaries between the living and the dead shift constantly, like smoke or sand. Set on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi (a place rich in oil rigs and atmosphere, if almost nothing else), the book’s Southern gothic aura recalls the dense, head-spinning prose of William Faulkner or Flannery O’Connor. But the voice is entirely Ward's own, a voluptuous magical realism that takes root in the darkest corners of human behavior ... Ward, whose Salvage the Bones won a National Book Award, has emerged as one of the most searing and singularly gifted writers working today. Grade: A."
"However eternal its concerns, Sing, Unburied, Sing, Ward’s new book, is perfectly poised for the moment. It combines aspects of the American road novel and the ghost story with a timely treatment of the long aftershocks of a hurricane and the opioid epidemic devouring rural America."
—The New York Times
"Staggering ... even more expansive and layered [than Salvage the Bones]. A furious brew with hints of Toni Morrison and Homer’s “The Odyssey,” Ward’s novel hits full stride when Leonie takes her children and a friend and hits the road to pick up her children’s father, Michael, from prison. On a real and metaphorical road of secrets and sorrows, the story shifts narrators — from Jojo to Leonie to Richie, a doomed boy from his grandfather’s fractured past — as they crash into both the ghosts that stalk them, as well as the disquieting ways these characters haunt themselves."
"Sing, Unburied, Sing is many things: a road novel, a slender epic of three generations and the ghosts that haunt them, and a portrait of what ordinary folk in dire circumstances cleave to as well as what they — and perhaps we all — are trying to outrun.”
—New York Times Book Review
"Sing, Unburied Sing is Ward’s third novel and her most ambitious yet. Her lyrical prose takes on, alternately, the tones of a road novel and a ghost story ... Sing, which is longlisted for a 2017 National Book Award, establishes Ward as one of the most poetic writers in the conversation about America’s unfinished business in the black South."
"While the magical element is new in Ward’s fiction, her allusiveness, anchored in her interest in the politics of race, has been pointing in this direction all along. It takes a touch of the spiritual to speak across chasms of age, class, and color ... The signal characteristic of Ward’s prose is its lyricism. “I’m a failed poet,” she has said. The length and music of Ward’s sentences owe much to her love of catalogues, extended similes, imagistic fragments, and emphasis by way of repetition ... The effect, intensified by use of the present tense, can be hypnotic. Some chapters sound like fairy tales. This, and her ease with vernacular language, puts Ward in fellowship with such forebears as Zora Neale Hurston and William Faulkner."
—The New Yorker
"[A] tour de force ... Ward is an attentive and precise writer who dazzles with natural and supernatural observations and lyrical details ... she continues telling stories we need to hear with rare clarity and power."
—O, the Oprah Magazine
"Electric ... a harrowing panorama of the rural South."
—L.A. Review of Books
"Gorgeous ... Always clear-eyed, Ward knows history is a nightmare. But she insists all the same that we might yet awaken and sing."
"The novel is built around an arduous car trip: A black woman and her two children drive to a prison to pick up their white father. Ward cleverly uses that itinerant structure to move this family across the land while keeping them pressed together, hot and irritated. As soon as they leave the relative safety of their backwoods farm, the snares and temptations of the outside world crowd in, threatening to derail their trip or cast them into some fresh ordeal .... The plight of this one family is now tied to intersecting crimes and failings that stretch over decades. Looking out to the yard, Jojo thinks, 'The branches are full. They are full with ghosts, two or three, all the way up to the top, to the feathered leaves.' Such is the tree of liberty in this haunted nation."
"In this lush and lonely novel, Ward lets the dead sing. It's a kind of burial."
"Ward unearths layers of history in gorgeous textured language, ending with an unearthly chord."
"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."
"Jesmyn Ward’s new novel is like a modern Beloved, with the cruelty of the criminal justice system swapped in for the torments of slavery ... Sing marks Ward as the sharpest voice in the contemporary conversation around the past’s relationship to the present ... Sing is an expansive endeavor."
“Macabre and musical. [Ward] has a knack for capturing vivid details from contemporary poverty: skeletal houses covered in insulation paper, laborers on the prison farm ‘bent and scuttling along like hermit crabs.’ Her lyrical language elevates desperation into poetic reverie … a gripping and melodious indictment of modern racial injustices.”
"If William Faulkner mined the South for gothic, stream-of-consciousness tragedy, and Toni Morrison conjured magical realism from the corroding power of the region's race hatred, then Ward is a worthy heir to both. This is not praise to be taken lightly. Ward has the command of language and the sense of place, the empathy and the imagination, to carve out her own place among the literary giants."
—The Dallas Morning News
"After winning the National Book Award for Salvage the Bones, Ward is back, with an epic family saga, an odyssey through rural Mississippi’s past and present."
—The Philadelphia Inquirer
"In her first novel since the National Book Award-winning Salvage the Bones, Jesmyn Ward immerses the reader in a mesmerizing, cathartic family story ... Ward’s spellbinding prose has a fervid physicality, teeming with the sights, smells, tastes and textures of her native Gulf town of DeLisle, Mississippi, rechristened here as Bois Sauvage. Her images pulse with stunning intensity, seeming to peer into the hidden nature of things, while laying bare the hearts of her characters. More powerful still is the seemingly boundless compassion that Ward demonstrates toward even the least lovable of her creations, expressed through lines that course with pain and love."
"Ms. Ward has mastered a lyrical and urgent blend of past and present here, conjuring the unrestful spirits of black men murdered by white men, and never shying away from the blatant brutality of white supremacy ... Ms. Ward’s musical language is the stuff of formidable novelists, and never has it been more finely tuned."
—The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"As long as America has novelists such as Jesmyn Ward, it will not lose its soul. “Sing, Unburied, Sing,” the story of a few days in the lives of a tumultuous Mississippi Gulf Coast family and the histories and ghosts that haunt it, is nothing short of magnificent. Combining stark circumstances with magical realism, it illuminates America’s love-hate tug between the races in a way that we seem incapable of doing anywhere else but in occasional blessed works of art."
—Minneapolis Star Tribune
"[As] in everything she writes, Ward’s gorgeous evocation of the burden of history reminds me of Mississippi’s most famous writer, in a novel with more than a trace of As I Lay Dying ... Always clear-eyed, Ward knows history is a nightmare. But she insists all the same that we might yet awake and sing."
"[Sing, Unburied, Sing has] a fresh, visceral resonance ... [its] story of grief, racism and poverty isn’t only Mississippi’s story but our country’s. So, too, let us hope, is its story of resilience and grace.
—St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"This book is so good that after you read it, you will want to read it again."
“If you've already encountered Jesmyn Ward, you need know nothing more than that she has a new book out. If you haven't, put Sing, Unburied, Sing at the top of your must-read list. [Ward’s] writing is page-turning. In Sing, Unburied, Sing, she puts the reader in the car, palpably rendering the oppressive heat, Kayla's misery, Jojo's anxiety, the crustiness of their clothing, their unquenchable thirst and the whole electrified atmosphere. Perhaps the most memorable book I've read this year, Sing, Unburied, Sing would be an outstanding book club choice.”
"[Jesmyn Ward is] one of the most powerfully poetic writers in the country ... Readers may be reminded of the trapped spirits in George Saunders' recent novel, Lincoln in the Bardo, but Toni Morrison's Beloved is a more direct antecedent."
—Albany Times Union
"Ward is a visceral writer, her sentences often hitting the reader like a slap across the face ... Ward tells a sweeping tale about atonement and forgetting, shame and responsibility, and failure, sorrow, hatred and acceptance. She does not offer answers. And maybe there are none. But her vital novel shows that we must heed the singing of the past, and raise our voices to help those wounds to heal."
“From the opening pages of Sing, Unburied, Sing, you know you’re in for a unique experience among the pecan trees and dusty roads of rural Mississippi. This intricately layered story combines mystical elements with a brutal view of racial tensions in the modern-day American South…Visitations from dead people, tales of snakes that turn into “scaly birds’ whose feathers allow recipients to fly—this material would have felt mannered in the hands of a lesser writer. But Ward skillfully weaves realistic and supernatural elements into a powerful narrative. The writing, though matter-of-fact in its depiction of prejudice, is poetic throughout…an important work from an astute observer of race relations in 21st-century America.”
"No reason to delay this spell-bound verdict: With Sing, Unburied, Sing, her third novel, Jesmyn Ward becomes the standard-bearer for contemporary Southern fiction, its fullest, most forceful, most vibrant, and most electrifying voice ... While Ward, born and raised in a small coastal community near Pass Christian, Mississippi, is operating within the contours of the Southern literary tradition—in the swampy lilt of her prose, in the scope of her concerns, in the way she entangles setting and character—she is also expanding it, heaving it forward, and revitalizing it in ways that no writer has done in more than a decade."
—Garden & Gun
"Ward has deservedly been heralded as Faulkner’s heir, not only because of her poetic prose but also due to the difficult subject matter she delivers to the reader: Making us all look at the U.S. as one would a fragile, yet wounded beautiful bird in one’s hands. Sing, Unburied, Sing is the author’s own take on the American road novel for the 21st century, with themes such as family — more specifically fatherhood — taking center stage."
"Jesmyn Ward leads readers into rural Mississippi, to the pain and grief and struggle of a family who can't escape history ... Ward's uniquely lyrical prose ties the family's modern-day struggles to the literal ghosts of Southern history."
—Minnesota Public Radio
“Ward tells the story of three generations of a struggling Mississippi family in this astonishing novel ... Their stories are deeply affecting, in no small part because of Ward’s brilliant writing and compassionate eye.”
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
“In her follow-up to the National Book Award-winning Salvage the Bones, Ward ambitiously fractures the extended family she portrays along race lines and moves her narrative from the tense realism of Southern rural poverty and prejudice to an African American-rooted magic realism … The narrative … sails through to an otherworldly, vividly rendered ending. Lyrical yet tough, Ward’s distilled language effectively captures the hard lives, fraught relationships, and spiritual depth of her characters.”
—Library Journal, starred review
"In her first novel since the National Book Award–winning Salvage the Bones (2011), Ward renders richly drawn characters, a strong sense of place, and a distinctive style that is at once down-to-earth and magical."
“If Sing, Unburied, Sing is proof of anything, it’s that when it comes to spinning poetic tales of love and family, and the social metastasis that often takes place but goes unspoken of in marginalized communities—let alone the black American South—Jesmyn Ward is, by far, the best doing it today. Another masterpiece.”
—Jason Reynolds, author of Ghost
"The connection between the injustices of the past and the desperation of present are clearly drawn in Sing, Unburied, Sing, a book that charts the lines between the living and the dead, the loving and the broken. I am a huge fan of Jesmyn Ward’s work, and this book proves that she is one of the most important writers in America today."
—Ann Patchett, author of Commonwealth
“Sing, Unburied, Sing is a road novel turned on its head, and a family story with its feet to the fire. Lyric and devastating, Ward's unforgettable characters straddle past and present in this spellbinding return to the rural Mississippi of her first book. You'll never read anything like it.”
—Ayana Mathis, author of The Twelve Tribes of Hattie
“Read Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing and you’ll feel the immense weight of history—and the immense strength it takes to persevere in the face of it. This novel is a searing, urgent read for anyone who thinks the shadows of slavery and Jim Crow have passed, and anyone who assumes the ghosts of the past are easy to placate. It’s hard to imagine a more necessary book for this political era.”
—Celeste Ng, author of Everything I Never Told You
Try the Kindle edition and experience these great reading features:
670 customer reviews
Review this product
Read reviews that mention
Showing 1-4 of 670 reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Set in rural Mississippi, told from each character’s point of view, we learn about the untimely and extremely unfortunate deaths of two people, different generations, both a result of racial strife, who come to haunt a mother and her son. The young boy, Jojo, our protagonist, is caught in a difficult position in his family. He has a seemingly uncaring mother yet the extreme love of his grandfather. He is also the primary caregiver to his sweet baby sister who has rejected their mother, with good cause.
The grandfather, known as Pop, is wise beyond his years and his wife, Mam, who is dying of cancer, equally so. They have enough love to give, despite having lost a son and raised a selfish daughter, perhaps who took a wrong turn as a result of drugs or when she married a louse who is in jail.
Pop has seen more than his eyes can bear. But he knows that he has lessons to teach. Mam does as well, and she reigns from her bed, even in her weakest state. Jojo, perhaps the wisest of them all, sees beyond this life, but he is still learning.
SING, UNBURIED, SING is a lyrical piece of literature that I hope will become an enduring staple just as TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD is in our school reading programs.
As a different Amazon reviewer put it, I think Richie's story would have been far more movingly presented as straight narration from Pop (also a sympathetic character and JoJo and Kayla's strong, caring grandfather). I just got frustrated and a little irritated by the images of him curled up on a car floor and a room's ceiling, for example. And chaotic death bed scene with Mam also kind of weakened the often powerful story. I can understand Given haunting his family and his presence at his mother's death and in his sister's mind as she makes choices she knows will hurt her or her kids -- that's ghost as metaphor and one whose emotional resonance is easy to relate to. Not so the presentation of Richie as a kind of "living ghost," as it were.
Ward's a fine and powerful writer and this was an important tale to tell -- not a good one, but an important one on several levels. But the use of magical realism in the form of Richie distracted and diminished the last portion of the book for me.
Jojo and his little sister Kayla are children of Leonie, who is a drug abusing mother with zero mothering instincts. The three of them live with Mam and Pop, Leonie's parents and the children's grandparents. Jojo is like the surrogate father, as Leonie is often gone and the father, Michael is locked up in the notorious Parchman prison. Kayla reaches to Jojo for succor and nurture much to Leonie's dismay. Jesmyn is great at writing viscerally, and the reader will feel the simmering emotion of Jojo. Jesmyn subtly takes on poverty, racism and drug abuse. We get to experience the drug use along with Leonie. Leonie has hooked up with Michael since high school and he is the white father of her two kids. It was a sense of two broken souls recognizing each other that brought them together.
"Because I wanted Michael’s mouth on me, because from the first moment I saw him walking across the grass to where I sat in the shadow of the school sign, he saw me. Saw past skin the color of unmilked coffee, eyes black, lips the color of plums, and saw me. Saw the walking wound I was, and came to be my balm." Michael's parents never approved of the union and didn't meet their grandchildren until JoJo was a teenager and Kayla a toddler as they stopped by their house on the way back from picking up Michael after a three year stint in the prison.
Jesmyn brilliantly uses that actual road trip to take readers on a virtual trip thru the lives of Leonie, Pop and Man, and also Given. Given is the older brother of Leonie who lost his life to one of Michael's cousin's. Leonie often can see and hear Given, she finds these visions comforting especially when she is high. Jesmyn has layered the book on different levels, weaving past present and future in a haunting magnificence. Pop often regales young Jojo with stories about his life and his own stay at Parchman. Pop is struggling in dealing with Mam who is dying of cancer and Jesmyn 's writing around the decay and devastation of cancer and Mam's way of dealing and exiting this life is the phenomenal highlight of a book that has many. The novel moves back and forth in time, eventually coming full circle, and it is mostly through Pop and Jojo's interactions and conversations that this five star tale gets flushed out. Pop has some psychological scars from his time at Parchman and shares with Jojo bits at a time. This adds a bit of suspense to the novel, because readers will want the complete story of what happened. It seems he tells Jojo the same beginning and middle parts of his Parchman stay, but never the ending, well the ending of Pop's story coincides with the denouement of the novel and the book title will be clearly and fully brought to light. An excellent undertaking by Jesmyn Ward. I received an advanced reading copy from Netgalley in exchange for a review. The book will publish Sept. 5, 2017.