Sunday, 6 November 2011

Book of the Week and Bibliography - Jesmyn Ward, Salvage the Bones

Salvage the Bones is a second novel from Jesmyn Ward. It has just been shortlisted for a National Book Award in the United States and received a very strong review in the Times on Saturday. Ward's first novel (Where the Line Bleeds) received a number of awards in the United States and it seems that she may be a significant new voice in American fiction. Ward grew up in relative poverty in a small black community near New Orleans and writes about an environment that she knows well - Salvage the Bones is set around Hurricane Katrina. Signed copies of her books seem relatively uncommon at present, and if you can pick them up at cost value may do well.

"A hurricane is building over the Gulf of Mexico, threatening the coastal town of Bois Sauvage, Mississippi, and Esch’s father is growing concerned. A hard drinker largely absent, he doesn’t show interest in much else. Esch and her three brothers are stocking food, but there isn’t much to save. Lately, Esch can’t keep down what food she gets; she’s fifteen and pregnant. Her brother Skeetah is sneaking scraps for his prized pit bull’s new litter, dying one by one in the dirt. Meanwhile, brothers Randall and Junior try to stake their claim in a family long on child’s play and short on parenting.

As the twelve days that make up the novel’s framework yield to a dramatic conclusion, the unforgettable family at the novel’s core — motherless children sacrificing for one another as they can, protecting and nurturing where love is scarce — pulls itself up to face another day."


Where the Line Bleeds - Agate, Chicago, paperback only, 2008
Salvage the Bones - Bloomsbury hardcover, 2011

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