Jesmyn Ward Paul and Debra Gibbons Professor of Creative Writing at Tulane University
"Men We Reaped"
Wednesday, November 12, 4:30pm, Stackhouse Theater, Elrod Commons
Jesmyn Ward's novel Salvage the Bones won the 2011 National Book Award for Fiction, and has been called “fearless and toughly lyrical” (The Library Journal). Her unflinching portrayals of young black men and women struggling to thrive in a South ravaged by poverty and natural disaster have been praised for their “graphic clarity” (The Boston Globe) and “hugeness of heart” (O: The Oprah Magazine). Ward's precise and graceful narratives make her a fitting heir to the rich literary tradition of the American South.
Ward received her MFA in creative writing from the University of Michigan, where she won five Hopwood Awards for her fiction, essays, and drama. She held a Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University from 2008-2010, and served as the Grisham Writer in Residence at the University of Mississippi during the following year. Ward currently teaches creative writing at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana. In addition to the National Book Award, Salvage the Bones was honored with the American Library Association's Alex Award. Ward received the Virginia Commonwealth University Cabell First Novelist Award for Where the Line Bleeds, which was also a finalist for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. Where the Line Bleeds was also an Essence magazine Book Club Selection, and was honored by the Black Caucus of the National Book Award.
Ward’s latest book, Men We Reaped, is a memoir that confronts the five years of Ward’s life in which she lost five young men—to drugs, accidents, suicide, and the bad luck that can follow people who live in poverty, particularly black men. Lauded as a “modern rejoinder to Black Like Me [and] Beloved,” (Kirkus Reviews) Men We Reaped is a beautiful and painful homage to Ward’s past, her ghosts, and the haunted yet hopeful place she still calls home. A finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography, it has been named one of the Best Books of 2013 by Publishers Weekly, The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, NPR, Kirkus Review, New York Magazine and Time Magazine.