National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward has stared down truth and rendered it on the page with poignance and precision before. But for her third novel, Sing, Unburied, Sing, Ward forged a fresh set of writing tools—historical research, multiple first-person points of view, and a touch of the supernatural—to grapple with the legacy wounds of American racism.
Urgent and evocative, Sing, Unburied, Sing explores the inescapable force of history bearing down on thepresent. Dense, multigenerational tragedy tails 13-year-old Jojo and his drug-addicted mother, Leonie, as they travel from their home in fictional Bois, Mississippi, upstate to retrieve Jojo’s white father from the notorious Parchman Farm, also known as the Mississippi State Penitentiary.
Jojo’s black maternal grandfather, River, also served time in Parchman, and Richie, the ghost of a child prisoner from those cruel years, joins the wretched travel party for the trip’s return leg. In distinct ways, each traveler—young man, woman, and ghost—desperately seeks home in people and places that provide no rest and little shelter.