Jesmyn Ward Reading & Conversation

The author of Sing, Unburied, Sing shares new novel Let Us Descend
On left, head and upper torso of person with dark curled hair past shoulders, light brown skin, wearing black shirt; to right, yellow book cover with colored bee image and black text: Jesmyn Ward Let Us Descend
Event Date & Time
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Event Location
Carlson Family Stage, Northrop

84 Church St SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455

The Esther Freier Lecture Series presents Jesmyn Ward, the MacArthur Fellow and two-time National Book Award-winning author of Sing, Unburied, Sing and Salvage the Bones. Ward's new novel Let Us Descend (Scribner) will be published October 24. Ward will read from the new book and be in conversation with English Professor V. V. Ganeshananthan.

This in-person event is free and open to the public with registration. Get your free tickets via Northrop. One thousand copies of Ward's book Let Us Descend will be given away; registrants who win a copy via random drawing will be notified in advance with instructions on how to pick up books at the event.

Live captioning and ASL provided. For further questions about accessibility services and the venue, please email or call 612-626-1528.

Hailed as “the new Toni Morrison” by the American Booksellers Association, Ward is the youngest person to receive the Library of Congress’s Prize for American Fiction and the first woman and first person of color to win the National Book Award for Fiction twice—joining the ranks of William Faulkner, Saul Bellow, John Cheever, Philip Roth, and John Updike. Ward’s novels, primarily set on Mississippi’s Gulf Coast, are deeply informed by the trauma of Hurricane Katrina. Ward’s first historical novel, Let Us Descend—out this October—tells the story of an enslaved teenage girl sold by her white father after being separated from her mother. Let Us Descend incorporates elements of Dante’s Inferno, magical realism, and slave narratives, exploring grief, resilience, imagination, and kinship.

Ward's critically acclaimed novel Sing, Unburied, Sing, won the 2017 National Book Award. “A searing, urgent read for anyone who thinks the shadows of slavery and Jim Crow have passed” (Celeste Ng), Sing was nominated for the PEN/Faulkner Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Aspen Words Literary Prize. Salvage the Bones, winner of the 2011 National Book Award, relates a tale of familial bonds set amid the chaos of the hurricane. Men We Reaped: A Memoir (2013) deals with the loss of five young men in Ward's life—to drugs, accidents, suicide, and the bad luck that follows people who live in poverty. Ward edited the critically acclaimed anthology The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race, a New York Times bestseller. A professor of creative writing at Tulane University and contributing editor to Vanity Fair, Ward’s many honors include a Strauss Living Award.

Associate Professor Ganeshananthan is a fiction writer and journalist. She is the author of novels Brotherless Night (Random House, 2023) and Love Marriage. Her work has appeared in Granta, The New York Times, The Atlantic Monthly, The Washington Post, Best American Nonrequired Reading, Columbia Journalism Review, and Ploughshares, among others.

Sponsored by the Department of English; co-sponsored by the Department of African American & African Studies.

Photo credit: Beowulf Sheehan

Masks encouraged. Staff and visitors attending in-person events are asked to self-screen for COVID-19 symptoms using the Stay Safe MN Health Screening Checklist. Staff and visitors are reminded to wash hands often, get tested, and stay home when ill or exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19.

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