Tags: jesmyn ward | wins | national book award | fiction

Jesmyn Ward Wins National Book Award for Second Time

Image: Jesmyn Ward Wins National Book Award for Second Time

Writer Jesmyn Ward attends the 68th National Book Awards Ceremony and Benefit Dinner at Cipriani Wall Street on Nov. 15, 2017, in New York. (Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

By    |   Thursday, 16 November 2017 11:57 AM

Jesmyn Ward won the National Book Award for fiction Wednesday for her novel "Sing, Unburied, Sing," making it the second time in six years Ward won the coveted prize.

Ward also won in 2011 for her book "Salvage the Bones." "Sing, Unburied, Sing," is a novel about a struggling African-American family in Mississippi.

"You looked at me and the people I love and write about ... and you saw yourself," Ward said in her brief acceptance speech, concluding that she felt honored to highlight the voices of those in Mississippi, USA Today reported.

The book centers around Jojo, a 13-year-old boy whose drug-addicted mother takes him and his sister on a road trip to pick up their white father after he is released from prison, The New York Times said.

The Times reported that the National Book Award judges called the narrative of "Sing, Unburied, Sing" "so beautifully taut and heartbreakingly eloquent that it stops the breath."

Ward, who won a grant from the MacArthur Foundation this year, said that she had faced criticism from some who questioned if there was commercial interest in a fiction book about poor blacks in the South.

"They said, 'Why should I read about a 13-year-old poor black boy or his neglectful, drug-addicted mother?'" Ward said, according to the Times.

Ward beat out Elliot Ackerman's "Dark at the Crossing," Lisa Ko's "The Leavers;" Min Jin Lee's "Pachinki," and Carmen Maria Machado's "Her Body and Other Parties: Stories" for the fiction crown, according to Entertainment Weekly.

Other winners include Masha Gessen in non-fiction for "The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia," Frank Bidart in the poetry category for "Half-light: Collected Poems 1965-2016," and Robin Benway in the young people's literature category for "Far from the Tree," noted Entertainment Weekly.

National Public Radio reported that Scholastic president and chief executive officer Richard Robinson received the literarian award for outstanding service to the American literary community. The award was introduced by former President Bill Clinton.

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Jesmyn Ward won the National Book Award for fiction Wednesday for her novel "Sing, Unburied, Sing," making it the second time in six years Ward won the coveted prize.
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Thursday, 16 November 2017 11:57 AM
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