Sing, Unburied, Sing

Sing, Unburied, Sing

Book - 2017
Average Rating:
Rate this:
"A searing and profound Southern odyssey by National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward. In Jesmyn Ward's first novel since her National Book Award-winning Salvage the Bones, this singular American writer brings the archetypal road novel into rural twenty-first-century America. Drawing on Morrison and Faulkner, The Odyssey and the Old Testament, Ward gives us an epochal story, a journey through Mississippi's past and present that is both an intimate portrait of a family and an epic tale of hope and struggle. Ward is a major American writer, multiply awarded and universally lauded, and in Sing, Unburied, Sing she is at the height of her powers. 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. Sing, Unburied, Sing grapples with the ugly truths at the heart of the American story and the power, and limitations, of the bonds of family. Rich with Ward's distinctive, musical language, Sing, Unburied, Sing is a majestic new work and an essential contribution to American literature"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Scribner, 2017
Edition: First Scribner hardcover edition
ISBN: 9781501126062
Characteristics: 289 pages ; 23 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Jan 12, 2018

I loved the imagery and could not put it down.

Jan 10, 2018

#4 on Entertainment Weekly's Best Books of 2017

Jan 07, 2018

Obama's list of 2017 favorite books

Jan 04, 2018

Didn't like it. Unlikable characters, story plodded along - I thought it would never end. I only finished it because it was on Barack Obama's 2017 reading list and, if he could finish it, so could I. I have Salvage the Bones in my TBR pile but I don't think I'll be picking it up anytime soon.

Dec 20, 2017

This heartbreaking story well-deserves the National Book Award. For those of us who live in a nice safe environment surrounded by people who care about us, this is a wake-up call to how lucky we are. If you are poor, bi-racial, with a drug-addicted mother and father who is in prison, your life in rural Mississippi is challenging, This is a deeply emotional book in which family still plays a strong part. It is West’s ability to choose her words carefully to paint a strong, true picture of a life of despair that makes this book soak into the reader’s mind long after the book has been read.

Dec 02, 2017

On NYT Ten Best Books of 2017 List.

Oct 29, 2017

This third novel from National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward ("Salvage the Bones") is about parents and children, the weight of history, the way the past crashes into the present, and the legacy of racism. It's a complex, ambitious, and challenging book and one of the best I've read this year. Ward's themes and writing recall greats like Faulkner and Morrison, but the novel feels very much of our time, especially in its treatment of race and racism.

Nicr Oct 27, 2017

"It's all happening at once. All of it. We all here at once." Ghosts walk and are seen; animals speak and are heard. An extraordinary book.

Oct 23, 2017

"He wasn't nothing but a boy, Jojo. They kill animals better than that."

I can't recall where I came across Jesmyn Ward's latest novel, Sing, Unburied, Sing (probably Well-Read Black Girl's instagram page); but I am so glad that I did. This novel captivated me from beginning to end. I loved the story and the characters and their complicated lives. I love how Ward balanced the contemporary and history, weaving together a story that both the young & old can appreciate. I am thankful that I held onto this book 2 days past its due date at my local library lol; just so I could fulfill my commitment to reading it. I highly recommend this novel to anyone that enjoys stories whose plots address our troubled past as a country and how it still affects us in the present.

Oct 15, 2017

Told principally by JoJo, a teenage boy, and his mother, Leonie, in alternating chapters, we hear a lyrical family story set in Gulf Coast Mississippi after the Deepwater Horizon explosion when Leonie ventures upstate to pick-up her children’s father Michael who is being released from prison.

Wondrously told, the author blends the family’s past and present seamlessly, keeping the story’s momentum to its end. Characters are true to life, JoJo’s grandparents have such humanity and love fiercely. No wonder there’s all the buzz for this book short-listed for the National Book Award.

View All Comments


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Subject Headings


Find it at DPL

To Top