Jesmyn Ward on ‘Sing, Unburied, Sing’

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In The New York Times Book Review, Tracy K. Smith, the U.S. poet laureate, reviews Jesmyn Ward’s new novel, “Sing, Unburied, Sing.” Smith writes:

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For each of these characters, living or dead, what lies unasked or unspoken becomes an impediment not just to happiness or social mobility but to literal deliverance — and each must decide whether to rise to the occasion, whether to let what he or she harbors sound out. Maybe that’s the miracle here: that ordinary people whose lives have become so easy to classify into categories like rural poor, drug-dependent, products of the criminal justice system, possess the weight and the value of the mythic — and not only after death; that 13-year-olds like Jojo might be worthy of our rapt attention while their lives are just beginning.

On this week’s podcast, Ward discusses “Sing, Unburied, Sing”; David Dobbs on five new books about Darwin; Kristin Cashore talks about “Jane, Unlimited”; Alexandra Alter has news from the publishing world; and Gregory Cowles, Jennifer Szalai and John Williams on what people are reading. Pamela Paul is the host.

Here are the books mentioned in this week’s “What We’re Reading”:

“The Ginger Man” by J. P. Donleavy

“The Night in Question” by Tobias Wolff

“After the Tall Timber” by Renata Adler

“The Color of Law” by Richard Rothstein

We would love to hear your thoughts about this episode, and about the Book Review’s podcast in general. You can send them to books@nytimes.com.

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