Next Meetup

Let's discuss SING, UNBURIED SING by Jesmyn Ward
Author Jesmyn Ward received the 2011 National Book Award for her book, Savage the Bones. The narrator of that book was a 15-year-old girl called Esch, who is poor, pregnant and unlucky. She tells herself the much-loved stories of nymphs and goddesses from Greek myths as she waits in Bois Sauvage, a mostly black Mississipi bayou town, for something to happen. Hurricane Katrina is on the horizon. In 2017 Jesmyn Ward’s new book was published to great critical acclaim. And won the 2017 National Book Award! Her new novel is also set in her fictional Bois Sauvage, Mississippi, where 13-year-old Jojo and his toddler sister, Kayla, lives with their grandparents, Mam and Pop. Pop tends the homestead with its goat yard, pigpen and chicken coop and tries to teach Jojo what it is to be a man. Mam is in the end stages of cancer. So, we have the strength of the first generation and the hope for the future in the third generation. The second generation, represented by Leonie, the children’s mother is another story. She is unreliable, hooked on drugs, and on her love for Michael, the white father of her two children. Michael has been incarcerated upstate at Parchman Farm, the Mississippi State Penitentiary, which still operates as in the old days like a plantation. His call to say that he’s been released sets the road trip plot in motion. Leonie insists on taking her children on the trip to get him believing/hoping that her nuclear family may become whole again. However, as a hedge, she also takes a friend, Misty, who is white and also has a drug habit. The trip is a predictable nightmare but includes many tender moments between Jojo and his sister. Against the current of the journey is Ward’s poetic writing about the weight of the past. The two unburied singers of the book’s title are a pair of restless ghosts. One is Leonie’s brother, shot by a white man (Michael’s cousin) in a hunting “accident;” the other is Richie, a 12-year-old caught stealing meat and sentenced to three years at the “old” Parchman. The novel is set in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and haunted by the great Mississippi flood of 1927. Water is both liberating and part of the problem. Characters are often parched. By moving between past and present, Ward’s portrait of the three generations and their trauma shows how her characters, bruised by a brutal racist history, grapple with the past in hopes of making a viable present.

Flyleaf Books

752 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd · Chapel Hill, NC

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Public Group

This is a casual and friendly book club that meets monthly at Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill. We alternate between fiction and non-fiction selections and choose our books democratically via polls. Book suggestions are always welcome and appreciated! Flyleaf Books offers a 20% discount on books selected for our discussions!

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