Book Review: Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

Jesmyn Ward is an artist of words. She wields her visions into searing stories of the Black contemporary south. Complex, heartbreaking and bleak narrations that seduce and sway you into the Black bodies born of love and pain and hunger and beauty that will make you tremble with rage and cry in horror; that will make you love with a passion and toil alongside to fight and demand justice. Words like the sun that beguiles you into the burn of suffering while wrapping you into the warmth of other.

There is a reason Ms. Ward has won two National Book Awards. All of her stories give rise to those voices all too often unjustly silenced and with a beauty that bestows not only wisdom but to honor those of her ancestors denied. Her words are a sublime entry into the exquisite. And if David Mitchell is a god of words, Jesmyn Ward is a goddess of narrations—a master of engaging and allure of nuance into the grip of a vice, squeezing and pummeling the ilk and poetry of pain felt by struggles, sufferings, and raw emotions.

Ms. Ward is a brilliant novelist and a master in her field. Buy and read all her work and do it now.

“Sorrow is food swallowed too quickly, caught in the throat, making it nearly impossible to breathe.”

“Sometimes the world don’t give you what you need, no matter how hard you look. Sometimes it withholds.”

“Growing up out here in the country taught me things. Taught me that after the first fat flush of life, time eats away at things: it rusts machinery, it matures animals to become hairless and featherless, and it withers plants […] since Mama got sick, I learned pain can do that too. Can eat a person until there’s nothing but bone and skin and a thin layer of blood left. How it can eat your insides and swell you in wrong ways.”

“The dream of her was the glow of a spent fire on a cold night: warm and welcoming. It was the only way I could untether my spirit from myself, let it fly high as a kite in them fields. I had to, or being in jail for them five years woulda made me drop in that dirt and die.”

“But it was something about a colored man running the dogs; that was wrong. There had always been bad blood between dogs and Black people: they were bred adversaries—slaves running from the slobbering hounds, and then the convict man dodging them.”

“The sky has turned the color of sandy red clay: orange cream. The heat of the day at its heaviest: the insects awoken from their winter slumber. I cannot bear the world.”

“It’s like a snake that sheds its skin. The outside look different when the scales change, but the inside always the same.”

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