This summer I am collecting and posting lists of reading recommendations on my blog, Connecticut Art Review. You can view all the lists here. One of my favorite novels from the past year is Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing—a story about ghosts, family, addiction, and persistent racism. My blurb from the blog is reposted below.
Sing, Unburied, Sing follows one family in a fictional town called Bois Sauvage in rural Mississippi. Death both opens and closes this novel: thirteen-year-old Jojo witnesses his grandfather, Pop, slaughter a goat in the opening scene and the story ends with the loss of Jojo’s grandmother, who is slowly dying of cancer throughout the narrative. In between, Ward unfurls Jojo’s fraught relationship with his mother, Leonie, a young black woman who struggles with drug addiction and co-dependency with Jojo’s white father, Michael. When Michael gets released from prison, Leonie packs Jojo and his toddler sister, Kalya, into her friend’s car to drive across the state. Throughout the story, the narrator switches from Jojo to Leonie (among others) and the reader learns about the presence of the ghosts who haunt various characters. These spirits are trapped in this world by the unresolved injustices that consume them. Ward’s fluid, poetic writing does not distract from the searing tragedies of the book and its message lingers as do her otherworldly characters.